The Do’s & Don’ts Of Networking On LinkedIn
How To Use LinkedIn
To Get A Job & Make Connections
Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people and create long-lasting relationships. While it’s easier to connect with a stranger or a friend of a friend on Instagram, when you’re seeking a work connection on LinkedIn, etiquette gets hazy. It’s essential to learn the basic skills of communicating on LinkedIn because digital portfolios are becoming more commonplace. Reaching out to a new connection or sending a cold email through LinkedIn could help you get your next job—it could also scare away a new employer.
Here are some general practices—and things to avoid—that will help you strengthen your LinkedIn profile and make meaningful connections.
Start With a Message
If you are requesting to connect with a stranger on LinkedIn, always send them a message first. Whether reaching out to someone you’re inspired by or a potential work connection, don’t miss the opportunity to say hello. LinkedIn connections can be used by employers as unwritten references and can come with a lot of value.
Don’t assume they know why you’re reaching out, though. Neither should you think someone doesn’t want to be contacted. Sending a connection invitation with a short message won’t bombard their inbox; it’ll be clumped under one notification. While many people accept every request, others have their own criteria when accepting new ones.
Email to Engage & Create Connection
When you do reach out to someone on LinkedIn, take the time to write out a personal and engaging message. Chances are they’ve received many cold-messages, and you want yours to stand out. I always suggest starting with a quick compliment, like “I really admire your work.”
Be specific about what you like, and follow up the compliment with a brief introduction about yourself. Pro tip: find a way to mention experience. For example, “I’ve been working on a project to tackle sustainability lately” or “I recently finished an article on women’s rights.” This information can help you stand out and pique someone’s interest. Lastly, specify what you’re after. Is it a meeting, a phone call, an answer to a specific question? Be direct. The compliment and a brief intro about yourself will hopefully make a more compelling case for your ask.
Build a Mutually Beneficial Relationship
I was surprised when I checked my LinkedIn inbox and saw a message from someone I’d never met, or messaged with, asking me to refer them for a position at the company I worked for. No matter how nice I wanted to be, I couldn’t put my job at risk by recommending someone who I hardly know. How could I even provide an accurate reference for someone when I’m unfamiliar with their work experience?
Slowly build up to that ask, and try to find an avenue to make a genuine connection. You can rub someone the wrong way when leading with “what can you do for me” approach. Get to know them, and hopefully, your future ask will be mutually beneficial.
Keep Interactions Professional
LinkedIn’s feed might feel like Facebook at times when your connections share interesting article updates, but people outside of your connections can see what you post. I’ve seen several negative and racially/socially insensitive comments from LinkedIn users on trending stories on multiple occasions.
Typically, your job title is right next to your name in LinkedIn comments, so each comment can be connected right back to your current employer, which may have consequences. While standing up for what’s right is essential—and please do engage when you see fit—avoid gossiping, name-calling, or spreading negativity on a professional platform.
Respond to Your Received Messages
Lastly, try your best to respond to your own messages, just like you’d like a new potential connection to respond to you. Even if the email is pitching a job you don’t want or a generic email, respond kindly when applicable.
How have you used LinkedIn to make valuable career connections? Share in the comments below!
Leah Thomas is a contributing writer at The Good Trade with a passion for wellness, inclusion and the environment. She works on the communications team at Patagonia and is a sustainable living blogger at Green Girl Leah. You can connect with her on Instagram @GreenGirlLeah