When I was introduced to LinkedIn in 2004 there were no plethora of articles, blogs or websites about the proper etiquette for using the site.I learned it the hard way, by having a few soul-pulping rejections, mortifying notification of suspended requests, and a couple of not so politely worded responses. So, I will share my experience with you and hopefully minimize your risk of incurring the wrath of some members.
1. Under no circumstance should you use the vanilla-flavored, boredom-inducing, standard template for request. It shows a blatant disrespect to the person you are trying to connect with, and a socially-unacceptable lack of creativity. At least try to use your own words to look like you’ve made a decent effort.
2. Peruse the profile of the person you are trying to connect with, show an interest in what they do and what they have achieved. Then formulate a reason why they should consider accepting your request. Nothing annoys the daylight out of me as much as checking out the profile of someone who sends me a random request only to find out that they didn’t even bother to grace my profile with their presence. The nerve. Why would you want to connect with me if you haven’t the slightest inkling as to who I am? I am not a number to be collected on your profile, which leads me to my next point.
3. LinkedIn is not a popularity contest, having a high number of connections doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve won the Homecoming Queen contest. If it’s your fervent passion to collect “Like” then go to Insta-Twit-Face and be merry.
4. Join as many professionally related groups as possible. That, in turn, will offer you the chance to send requests to members within the group. People are more likely to accept your request if they can see that you belong to the same groups and share similar background or interests.
5. Never use an avatar as your profile picture, there is a place for cosplay and LinkedIn is not it. Unless you want the prospective employer to think of you as a member of the Harajuku girls, then use a real picture of yourself. Also, Vogue and Glamour studio shots are not necessary. LinkedIn is not a beauty pageant, so just let your natural beauty shine. However, as much as we like to see what you look like and connect a name to a face, we do not need to see your pet Poodle-Corgi-Cavalier King Charles Spaniel / Pembroke Welsh–Chihuahua cross in the same frame.
6. After having your intended accepting your request, at the very first instance, write a personalized thank you message to express your appreciation. That person has accepted you onto their network, possibly opening up many more connections to you. Be grateful and show it.
7. Never lie on your profile, it’s like trying to steal a cookie from the jar, sooner or later, momma is going to find out. If you don’t like something about your professional career, it’s probably best to leave it off your profile.
8. Don’t let your profile flat-line or allow it to look like it’s suffering from ADHD. It’s commendable to update it with new skills, but it does not need to be “microsurgeried” every day. On the flipside, not updating your skills or current status since the Bush administration might not be sending the most lively message either.
9. Maximize the summary section of your profile. We get it, you are an avid snow bunny, but that’s not necessarily a required professional skill unless you are Shawn White. There is only limited space, so use it as your elevator pitch, product: YOU, since most of the people I know (including myself) have the attention span of a fruit fly.
So, I hope I’ve imparted some tiny bubbles of tips to help you circumvent the ego-crushing, sad-face-prompting rejections we’re all going to be nailed with at some points in life, but hopefully not on LinkedIn. Therefore, in the immortal words of Capt. Picard, “Make it so” and mind your manners on LinkedIn.