Like any social network, LinkedIn has a long list of official rules, but there are also unwritten rules that community members are expected to abide by. If you’ve ever received an annoyingly salesy message from someone you just added to your network less than a second ago, you know what we’re talking about – it’s all about etiquette!
Though networking on a social platform might seem easier (especially for introverts!), it can present itself with some challenges. There’s certainly an art to developing and leveraging connections, but with practice you can make the most out of it and boost your career!
Here are a few LinkedIn Etiquette tips to help you connect better with other professionals!
Don’t start a conversation with a sales pitch
You might be selling the BEST thing on the planet. The cure for cancer. The secret to happiness. Immortality. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling if the first thing you do after connecting on LinkedIn is force a sales pitch down that person’s throat.
Here’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when you’re in this line of work: people don’t want to be sold things. They will always raise objections and react in a defensive way if you’re trying to make them buy something from you when they’re not even in the market for it.
Starting a conversation with a sales pitch is a sure way of pissing off ANY connection on LinkedIn, because you’re not lifting a finger to get to know more about them and their business/career.
Some better ways to interact with a new connection are:
- Find out more about them and what they do from their profile. Do your research!
- Find a common interest as a conversation starter or find a project that the person worked on and ask them about it.
- Give more than you take. Listen (read) more than you talk (write).
- Be open and honest about why you want to connect. Are you looking for some mentorship/advice, are you trying to build connections in a new industry, would you like to see if there are ways you might be able to work together?
- (If you’re selling something) Ask yourself if what you’re selling would REALLY benefit them.
Don’t post anything unprofessional on your profile
LinkedIn is your online business card and represents your personal brand. Would you put a photo of a cat or worse, an inappropriate image on your business card? Most likely not.
Your profile needs to reflect your professional persona, which let’s face it, may look a little different than how you present yourself on a weekend. One of the first things people see is your profile image. Since you’re not on Instagram or Facebook, don’t choose a revealing photo of you on the beach, sipping from a cocktail or a group photo with your mates.
Your profile photo should be a professional portrait, the kind of photo you would use on your resume. Something high quality (i.e. not blurry or dark), cropped from shoulders up, looking directly at the camera, smiling and in your professional attire (doesn’t have to be a suit, but something smart casual and work-appropriate for your industry) will work best.
As for sharing or writing content, you get the main idea: stay away from memes, puzzles, games, teasers, spammy “share to win” competitions and irrelevant updates about your personal life. There’s a better place for that (if you really must): Facebook!
Instead focus on sharing work-relevant content that 1) showcases your skills, experience, and achievements, and 2) kickstarts conversations within your network.
Don’t recommend poor performers
LinkedIn recommendations are great, but only if they’re genuine. If we start recommending everyone and anyone that asks us to, they won’t hold much value.
Over the years, you will probably work with many people and if they’re on LinkedIn, they might send you a recommendation request. Feel free to oblige, but only if you mean it! Recommending a poor performer or unethical coworker/employee just because you’re trying to be polite is a big no-no on LinkedIn, for obvious reasons. Because this person is in your industry, it will reflect badly on you if you publicly recommend them despite their low performance.
Although it might be awkward to ignore a recommendation request, it’s always better to be honest.
Don’t send invitations without a personalised message
We all get random invitations, often from strangers living on the other side of the planet and often without a line explaining why they’d like to connect with us. We all get them and we all hate them (and ignore them more often than not).
Whether you’ve actually met the person you’re trying to connect to or not, it’s good LinkedIn etiquette to write a short personalised message to introduce yourself. If you’ve already met, mention the occasion – don’t just assume they remember you. Try to connect soon after meeting them in real life to make sure the memory is still fresh.
If you’ve never met the person but you have a lot of things in common from a professional perspective, write a short intro highlighting this. It’s a good reason to connect and it also makes you look more professional.
The art of networking from the comfort of our own home is something we often take for granted. By developing your LinkedIn skills, you can open up new and exciting career opportunities and finetune your personal brand.