LinkedIn Etiquette: How to Connect With Intent
LinkedIn is the top social network for professionals. It boasts more than 706 million users in over 200 countries and territories and is a powerful tool to help grow your network.
But making connections on LinkedIn shouldn’t really come down to simply clicking on “Connect,” and you’re done. The idea behind networking—no matter where you do it—is to connect you with others who can help you professionally and vice versa for years to come. So, it’s important to connect with more than the goal of having the most connections, and that means following some LinkedIn etiquette.
Connecting With Strangers
Part of building a network means including people you don’t really know, like someone you met briefly at a conference. And as intimidating as it might feel to reach out to strangers, that’s an important part of networking.
However, before you start asking to connect with anyone and everyone on LinkedIn, consider the pros and cons of connecting with strangers.
One of the greatest gifts the internet has given us is the ability to connect with people we wouldn’t normally meet. It’s now possible to connect with and create a meaningful relationship with someone halfway around the world via computer.
And, when you’re trying to build a professional network, you never know what those far-flung connections can get you. If you’ve always wanted to work abroad, those connections might be able to help you find a job in a new country. And, if you’re a freelancer, you can connect with all sorts of new prospects who you might not otherwise have been able to.
So, it may make sense for you to connect with strangers on LinkedIn. You never know what that connection will bring!
The problem with connecting with everybody on LinkedIn is that more connections do not automatically guarantee more opportunities. In fact, the only thing you may gain from connecting with everyone is a vast number of connections, but nothing else.
A large network is fantastic only if it includes meaningful relationships. But for most people, it’s hard to cultivate a large and meaningful network. You’re better off creating a small but useful network than a large, potentially unhelpful one.
LinkedIn Etiquette for Requesting Connections
As FlexJobs Career Coach Cidnye Work points out, “LinkedIn was created for professional networking.” And, given the pandemic, most networking is happening online, so if you want to build your professional network, LinkedIn is the place to be!
If you are going to connect with strangers on LinkedIn, Work advises people to remember that “the goal is not to add as many people as possible just to build up your connections. The goal is to network and get your name out there in the industries you want to work in.”
Try searching for connections with intent. That means only sending invites to:
- Someone who is a manager or leader in the specific department or company you want to work at
- A recruiter who could help you connect to your desired job or field
- The CEO or founder if it’s a small company (30 or fewer people)
Beyond that, don’t connect with strangers. Think of LinkedIn as a really big networking event. If it happened in person, you wouldn’t hand your information out to every person you met. The same is true for online networking. Connect with intent and purpose, and you’ll create a quality, professional network that can help you out when you need it.
Every time you send a connection request, make sure you personalize it. Work points out that “people are more likely to accept requests if there is a personalized message attached where you detail why it is that you want to connect with them.”
Create a personalized request that is meaningful and helpful—especially if it’s been a few years since you and the other person connected in real life.
Remind the person how you know each other (we worked together at XYZ company in different departments but on that one project). If it’s someone who may not remember you (that person you chatted with at that conference one time), add some extra information about why you two should connect (we’re both in marketing).
Not sure what that might look like in practice? Here are a couple examples:
Good afternoon, Jane. I enjoyed your article about the future of workplace training. I’m transitioning from higher ed and would be grateful if you’d tell me a bit about your experience. Could I send you a couple of questions, or maybe we could chat for 10 minutes? Thanks for considering!
Hello Ms. Ramirez. Our mutual connection Ben Barnaby recommended I reach out to you because I’m applying for a position with your company, Global Services. I’d love to hear about your experience working there and any advice for my application or who else I should connect with. I appreciate your time very much!
Remember, you’re doing more than collecting names and numbers, you’re building relationships.
And though part of connecting on LinkedIn is about building your network, don’t immediately spam your new connection with requests, marketing and sales info, or ask for a recommendation.
Send Relevant Messages
As you connect and engage with your new connection, make sure that the messages you send are relevant to your contacts. For example, if you’re in programming, it’s doubtful that a pharmaceutical sales rep is interested in an article you just wrote on the ins and outs of Python. They might support you with a like, but they might not appreciate non-relevant information, so think wisely before sending messages and sharing information.
Do You Connect With the Hiring Manager?
“Yes,” says Work. “It doesn’t hurt to get your name out there and let them know that you applied for a position.”
That said, don’t send the connection request immediately after your interview. Instead, send a winning thank-you note after the interview. Then wait a week or two after applying to send a LinkedIn request. It’s a perfect chance for you to follow up with the hiring manager and remind them of how fantastic you’d be at the company.
LinkedIn Etiquette Beyond Connections
Of course, there’s so much more to LinkedIn etiquette than being smart about sending invites. Here are a few other quick tips to help you navigate LinkedIn like a pro.
Part of growing and maintaining a professional network means doing things for your network. So, consider introducing one part of your network to the other. It’s a great opportunity to help others grow and expand their own network. And, you never know what will come of that connection.
No Spam, Please
Don’t ask everyone to open up their contact list to you or ask connections to like and share every single thing you post. And don’t only share promotional information about yourself. Or, when you do, make sure it provides value to your network.
Be intentional and authentic in your messaging. Your network will appreciate it.
FollowLinkedIn Etiquette and Build a Better Network
Just like in real life, networking and connecting should always be done with purpose and intent. Following LinkedIn etiquette will help you build a network that can be invaluable throughout your career.
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