The other day, I received several messages from people I barely know, asking me to recommend them on LinkedIn. The situation prompted the following tweet:
#LinkedIn is a network of serious professionals. When you don’t know someone, do not ask them to recommend you. Not a good idea at all!
— Cendrine Marrouat (@cendrinemedia) March 31, 2011
After spending a couple of hours pondering and discussing the issue with friends, I came to the following conclusion: Success on LinkedIn is conditioned by a specific etiquette that is not found on other major social networking sites.
Do not put the cart before the horse. Only send invitations to other members if your profile is complete — and thorough — and you have uploaded a picture of you. The reason for this is simple. Upon receiving your invite, the person will first check out your profile to see who you are and what you do. If there is nothing there, they will refuse the connection.
So do not skip that step. Give people a good reason to become part of your network.
LinkedIn is not the same as Facebook or Twitter. People will not add or follow you just because you do. Send a short and concise introduction with your invitation; explain why you think the person and you should be connected. It is very important. And please, kill the generic default message — “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
Every time a new connection is made, follow up with a nice message. However, avoid the elevator / sales pitch right away. Ask questions, get to know the person. Engage in positive conversation.
Recommendations are the most important area of a LinkedIn profile. They tell the world what you are good at, according to people who have worked with you or know you well professionally.
Sending mass messages asking for recommendations is very silly. Instead, choose each person carefully. Ask yourself the following questions:
–Does this person know me well? Do I know them well?
–How will this particular recommendation benefit me?
–Am I willing to reciprocate?
I touched upon this in the introduction to this article.
If you consider yourself a professional, you will care about your reputation. As a result, you will not recommend just any person that asks you. I blogged about this particular topic in an article titled “Promotion And Marketing 101: 2 Case Studies.” You can read it here.
LinkedIn Groups are the best tool to find people in your niche and share great content. Some experts advise to join as many as 50. Instead, I would suggest that you look around and join only those that can bring you the most benefits. Even if it is only 10 groups, make sure that you interact, answer questions, comment, and share interesting links.
One thing LinkedIn Group participants hate is private messages. So, unless you have a very good reason to contact them, avoid that method by all possible means.
I am shocked to read more and more comments and private messages that are devoid of any form of courtesy. No “hello”; no “best regards”; no “thank you for your time”… Being polite will make you stand out and other professionals more willing to connect and do business with you.
Even if it is only three or four times a year, keep in touch with your LinkedIn connections. It will keep the conversation going, while reminding them that your account is managed by a human being who cares about their network.
LinkedIn messages are just as important as other emails. So treat them accordingly. Follow up in a timely fashion — preferably within 48 business hours.
Last but not least, professional interactions are the essence of LinkedIn. Edit your messages for typos, avoid bickering — especially in groups or publicly — and never spam. And learn to spell names right!
Are you on LinkedIn? If so, what other advice would you give?