Afraid to make to a new contact on LinkedIn? Don’t be. People like to get LinkedIn invitations–so long as your outreach is conducted professionally and “makes sense” to the recipient. Here are the unwritten rules–some of them not what you’d expect–for making new contacts via LinkedIn:
- Have a clear purpose. If you’re going to connect with someone and “command their time,” it’s important that you have a clear reason for doing so and tell them about it up front. “I thought it would be a good idea if we got connected” is insulting to your target. It suggests that you’ll connect with anyone, and you certainly haven’t put any thought into this particular outreach. Examples of good reasons to connect with someone new include: a) to ask for career advice; b) to give career advice (note: very few people begin a networking relationship by extending an offer of assistance…it’s a bold and generous move that’s there for the taking); or c) to offer/seek employment.
- Do not be pesky. Give your target at least two weeks to respond to your invitation before following up. And try not to get frustrated. There are a million reasons–none of which have anything to do with you–why it might take someone a month or longer to get back to you. Don’t take it personally. If you do, it will muck-up how you proceed when your target finally does reach back.
- Start with an email, but kindly and respectfully request face time, or at least a phone call to get things off the ground. A relationship built entirely on email or LinkedIn messages is weak at its core.
- Don’t ask for too much up front. And make it your business to figure out how you can help your new contact in return. If you can’t figure it out on your own, you might flat-out ask him/her, “What can I do to be of help to you?”
- If there’s a third party in common, ask him/her to write an email introduction addressed to you and your target. It’s a great way to get the road ahead smoothly paved.
- If the contact lives/works far from you, and if he/she is a really important contact, strongly consider making the offer to hop a plane to meet them in person. It will run you some cash, but will show deep sincerity and focus.
- Do not immediately seek to connect with all of your new contact’s contacts! That’s over-doing it / rude / taking advantage.