Making the first move with a new contact is always nerve racking. Whether in person or online, approaching a stranger or new business acquaintance takes time, effort and courage.
LinkedIn is a great tool for professionals—particularly job seekers—to connect with like-minded individuals in the same industry. It’s an excellent online portal for networking and can be used to your advantage if you’re looking to make some new contacts or sit down with someone in your industry.
Here are a few key tips for connecting with new professionals on LinkedIn.
It’s much easier to begin a professional relationship when you approach someone in a friendly, polite manner. There are three important things to keep in mind before you begin drafting a message to someone on LinkedIn.
First, most professionals are very busy. If you’re contacting someone because you’d like to set up an in-person meeting in the future, be mindful of his or her time and ask for a response only at their earliest convenience.
Second, don’t be afraid to pay a compliment or two. Most people can smell empty flattery a mile away, but a genuine acknowledgement of one’s success is always welcome. Explain why you are contacting them and what it is about their career that interests you.
And lastly, don’t spend too much time talking about yourself. You’ll, of course, want to identify who you are and your current professional role. But try to avoid writing a lengthy note detailing your background. Keep it short and sweet, and you’ll have much better results.
Express your intentions.
Most people prefer to know why they are being contacted. When you get in touch with a professional on LinkedIn, don’t keep your agenda hidden. Specify why you are contacting him or her and what you are looking for. If you are interested in learning more about their career trajectory, perhaps ask if they have time in the future to sit down for a cup of coffee with you. Or, if you have a specific inquiry that you would like to make, go ahead and ask. It’s important not to waste people’s time, or give them a false impression about why you are trying to connect.
Never, ever forget to say thanks.
It almost seems too obvious, yet this is probably the easiest and most important step of all. Don’t forget to express your gratitude when someone takes time out of his or her day to connect with you. Especially when you’ve contacted them out of the blue.