These days, networking is becoming more and more crucial to finding a job, among other opportunities. We’re told over and over again that the more connections we have, the better off we’ll be. Following that logic, it makes the most sense to connect with as many people as we can on LinkedIn. However, it’s not as simple as mass connecting with every person who you’ve ever met—there’s more to it than that.
One of the most important things to remember to do when requesting to connect with others is to personalize your request. There will be many instances in which this may seem unnecessary; for instance, you probably don’t think that you need to explain to the close friend who’s in your major and who you’ve been taking classes with for years, or to the coworkers who you see every day why you’d like to connect with them. However, it could still be beneficial to personalize your message and remind them that you’re looking for a job, or thank them for all their support in the past. For those people who you don’t know as closely though, have only met a few times, or have never met at all, it is especially crucial to remind them who you are, and why you think that sharing a network with them will be beneficial.
There are differing opinions within the LinkedIn community about whether or not it is beneficial to accept requests from strangers. The majority of people argue that it is indeed beneficial to connect even with strangers, because as the nature of LinkedIn demonstrates, the wider your network, the more you’re sure to gain; even if you don’t know those people now, they could be beneficial to you in the future. Not all people follow this philosophy though when it comes to accepting requests, which is what makes it so important for your request to always be personalized, to cater to those who are more hesitant to accepting those requests. For instance, if you’ve sent me a request to connect on LinkedIn and I don’t know who you are, any of the following thoughts are what might be going through my head:
-I can’t think of any reason why this person would be a resource for me in the future
-They clearly don’t care enough about connecting with me if they couldn’t even take the time to personalize their request
-I want to keep my network full of connections who I know for sure are trustworthy, valuable, and relevant to my field, and this person may not be
-I’d rather not share my information with a stranger
-This person might spam me
-This person may be one of my company’s competitors looking to gain insight into our employees or company structure
-I don’t want to connect with people who have bad reputations, and therefore, could damage mine by being a connection
Any of these are justifications that strangers might use to instantly delete your request from their inbox. Occasionally, people who truly want to know who you are might message you back wondering why you’re requesting them, but people are busy, and clicking delete is much quicker and easier than taking the time to find your email and craft a message. So the next time you’re about to send that request, make sure that you’ve got a personalized message in the box that will help you make the right impression and ensure that your request doesn’t become another instant “Ignore”.
Do you want help improving your LinkedIn profile and learning how to get the most out of your networking efforts? Join the CCO’s LinkedIn Boot Camp today by joining the Spring 2014 CCO Boot Camp sub-group on LinkedIn, and work with a LinkedIn coach to learn the most effective techniques to online networking.