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Networking Tips: LinkedIn 101

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, allowing anyone to build and customize their digital resume, grow their industry network, and stay connected with current contacts. As with any professional role, LinkedIn has some unspoken rules of etiquette one should follow. We’ve constructed some DO’s and Don’ts of using this site, so you can best utilize it to build your professional network and make a great first impression. Read on for some top-notch networking tips!

DO send a customized invitation to connect

It’s always better to send a customized invitation when you’re trying to make a new connection, as opposed to a generic, pre-filled request. You always need to be thinking about how you can make yourself stand out, especially if using LinkedIn for job hunting or searching for clients. Take a few extra minutes and really personalize your message to the professional you’re reaching out to. Let them know why you’re connecting, and you’re much more likely to get a response.

DON’T send two (or ten) requests

We know that it’s annoying when it’s been weeks and someone STILL hasn’t responded to your invitation. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s okay for you to delete that request and send another one, just to “remind” them. There might be a reason that they weren’t so quick to accept your request, and it only makes you look desperate if you bombard them with one after another. You’ve done your part, you’ve reached out with a personal message. Now the ball is in their court, and it’s their choice whether or not they want to connect with you.

DO respond to messages and invitations promptly

Knowing how frustrating it can be when somebody doesn’t respond to your invitation as quickly as you would like, don’t do the same to others. A good rule of thumb is to treat LinkedIn like e-mail. It’s perfectly acceptable to wait 24 or sometimes even 48 hours to respond, but any longer than that is just rude. Don’t start off on the wrong foot! A prompt response shows that you’re organized, professional, and interested in building relationships. Let LinkedIn send you email notifications or make it a part of your daily schedule to check for new invitations. Whichever method you decide to use, make sure to stick with it!

DON’T ask someone you don’t know well for a recommendation or endorsement

Would it be awesome if the VP of the company you worked for and met maybe 2 times in 10 years gave you a glowing recommendation? YES! Is it okay for you to ask for one? NO WAY! We’re not saying that you shouldn’t ask a close colleague if she’s willing to endorse you for a specific skill that she’s seen you perform – you should be doing that. But don’t ask acquaintances or new connections if they’re willing. It will portray you as desperate, and may even make the person feel uncomfortable or pressured. On the same note, just because you’ve endorsed someone doesn’t mean they have to endorse you back. Remember that this isn’t Twitter! Concentrate on getting endorsements from those you know well – they’ll be much more beneficial to you in the long run, anyway.

DO endorse your colleagues

Don’t be afraid to endorse your colleagues for skills that you’ve seen them embody. It makes them feel good about themselves and will help you build both a professional and digital LinkedIn relationship with them. However, don’t endorse someone for a skill that you can’t bear witness to. Being anything but honest will come back to haunt you in the long run, and you don’t want to put yourself in that position. Stick to endorsing people that you know well for skills that you know they can perform.

DON’T start a message with “I see you’ve viewed my profile…”

Creepy, right? Being able to see who has viewed your profile is a particularly cool LinkedIn feature, but not one that you should take advantage of. Don’t start by saying that you see they’ve viewed you; they’re already aware of that Plus, it could make things a bit uncomfortable if they’ve viewed you and then chosen not to reach out to you. If you do want to connect with someone who has viewed your profile, that’s perfectly fine. Just send a personalized connection request – talk about your common interests, mutual connections, etc, and then let them respond how and when they’d like.

DO make lots of connections

That’s what LinkedIn is for, right?! Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone,no matter how much higher or lower you think you are on a professional scale than them. Ignoring someone’s request could cost you an interview for your dream job, as could being too proud to reach out to someone less qualified than you. In the professional world, it’s all about who you know. The connections you make will have their own connections established, and breaking into their web of contacts is the best way to grow your own.

Best of luck!

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