So you’re on someone’s profile on LinkedIn and you think: “Wow! They have so many direct contacts! And we have so few people in common! If only they would connect with me, I’d increase my visibility manifold!.” You also see that they have their e-mail id on their profile.

So what do you do now?

Do you send them a boiler-plate invite to connect [ which means that you click the “Add Connection” or “Add as Contact” or “Do you know Mr. So And So – Invite them to connect” button – then you just fill in their e-mail id and hit the Send button with the “Remind in 10 days option” checked ]?

OR

Do you read their profile and do the following:

  • Look for URL’s on their profile – they might not be complete URL’s like “http://www.aside.in/blog” but might be like “aside.in”. You also might not find the URL in the person’s profile but in one of the endorsements – I know I did once.
  • Visit those URLs – if it’s a blog, leave an intelligent comment [ which means that you write something related to the blog’s content and not leave an advertisement for your company – as much as possible, avoid a URL within the body of your comment – most blog comment fields already ask for your URL, someone curious about you can click on your name and go to your web presence ], if it’s a website look for something you like [ for example, since I am a logo designer/photographer – visual person, I check out the visuals and if I like them, I compliment the person – I even go so far as to compliment the webmaster if there’s a link available – even if the webmaster might never share the message with the person who I’m looking to connect with on LinkedIn ].
  • If there are no OBVIOUS URLs try a couple of combinations with their company name – if they are in India – like I am – and the name of the company given is “aside”, try www.aside.in
  • If there are no URL’s look for the person’s name on Google and check out those pages.
  • DO NOT send them an invitation to connect just because they have their e-mail id on their profile!
  • Send them an introduction via your direct contact, if they are on OpenLink, send them an OpenLink message and talk about THEM – DO NOT TALK about YOURSELF. Remember, no one likes to hear your life-story when they meet you for the first time – when people meet for the first time, they like to create first impressions and you DO NOT want to come across as someone who’s too full of yourself! Think of a first date – if you’re the guy, how would you feel if the girl you just met started telling you about why she doesn’t get along with her mother and how she just loves to spend hours doing make-up?

Talk about the person, about their work, about their website, about their blog. The first 80% of your e-mail to them should only talk about them and what you liked about them. The next 20% leaves you one line before you sign off and the signature [ I’m sure you can make out that the message NEEDS to be CONCISE ].

My closing usually is “My short introduction is that I am primarily a logo designer and photographer – my design studio blog is www.aside.in/blog – do visit!” That’s all I talk about ME.

The signature is another important part: don’t use your full signature in your first e-mail to ANYBODY unless they specifically asked for it. You’re trying to “CONNECT” with someone on LinkedIn, not trying to get them to call you – not yet anyway. I typically include my full name and the links to my design studio blog as well as the business networking blog. That’s it.

I don’t see why such an introduction will not get forwarded/accepted.
Once the person writes to you and accepts the introduction, DO NOT JUMP and send them an invitation to connect – not just yet. Send them a “Thank you” e-mail and suggest that you’d love to have them on your network and ask if it’s ok if you sent them an invitation to connect.

Ask and thou shalt get. Ask first and in 10 cases out of 10, when you do send an invitation to connect, it WILL GET ACCEPTED. When someone tells you that they’d rather first get to know you better before connecting networks – take it as a POSITIVE sign – they didn’t say “NO”.

The things you can do to take it from there include:

  • Visiting their blog intermittently and leaving intelligent comments.
  • Asking them more about specific parts of their job – the places they visited, their interests etc.
  • Keeping up the conversation.

Yeah it’s a lot of work – but you’re making a connection for life – what else do you expect!

One thing I’d like to clarify – people who have their e-mail id’s on their profile – doesn’t mean they are open to connecting with anyone – just means that they want to make life easy for someone who’s genuinely interested in connecting with them. There’s no hidden agenda – I know of a lot of people on LinkedIn who have e-mail id’s on their profile but have very small and private networks.

8 comments

  1. Excellent advice! By the way, I was very impressed with your LinkedIn logo work which led me to your blog. Adrian.

  2. Hi Adrian!

    Thank you for stopping by. Thank you for reading this blog and for the kind words and thank you for taking a look at the LinkedIn Socially logo! I’m glad you found the above piece of some value.

  3. I like this, Naina. Solid advice. How do you feel about uploading it as a Word document to MLPF and putting a pointer back to aside.in in it? That way current and future members can benefit from it and, in turn, be encouraged to come here to visit aside. What do you think?
    I especially think that a lot of our members might benefit from your clarifying thoughts about email signatures.
    Thanks, Naina,
    – Vincent

  4. Wow! Vincent! I had no thought of a Podcast so far – I thought that would be a tad adventurous especially when I really don’t know what to say! Sounds like a great idea! You really think the above piece is that good! Thank you Vincent! I’ll try this out coming week – I hope I get ot make some good quality voice material.

    UPDATE: Huh! Talk about wanting to do something – I believe I had been thinking of Podcasting for so long now that I really did want to do it and completely overlooked that you’d mentioned a “Word Document” Vincent!

  5. Very nice, Naina!

    I like the part about it being a lot of work but you are making a connection for life — so true. Anything worth doing is worth taking the time to do it right.

    Best,
    Anita

  6. Thank you for the encouragement Anita! It’s always wonderful to realise that what I thought was “my way” of doing things is not restricted just to me!

    Thank you for stopping by!

  7. Naina – I truly enjoyed reading your suggestions outlining the actual “etiquette” required to successfully build your network. I believe your suggestions can be applied not only to LinkedIn but to all networking activity in life. It’s nice to see someone take the time to apply offline networking etiquette techniques to the online world. Thanks, -Julia

  8. Julia, Thank you for stopping by and reading what I have to say! I realize that whatever is written the way it actually happens is usually more popular [ the feedback that I have received on this particular blog post has been tremendous 🙂 ]

    Sad part is that most people still will not “get it” 🙂 But that’s part of the game – it is a relatively flat learning curve – but it sure as hell takes a lot of time!

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