Have you considered that when you are connecting on LinkedIn you should follow the same rules that you used when you asked for a date?
I have been married for over thirty years. I only vaguely remember those awkward feelings when asking for a date. I do remember that I did not want to be rejected, ignored or dumped.
When you are connecting on LinkedIn, consider the following:
- How do you know this person? Did you meet at a conference or meeting? Did you read an article on their website? Did you comment on their blog? Is it a personal or a virtual relationship?
- Why do you want to create a connection on LinkedIn with this person? Do you want to network with this person? Do they work at a company that you are targeting? Can they introduce you to decision makers? Can they help you get your next job? Do you think they are doing interesting work and would like to connect personally?
- Is there anything you can do for them? People rarely do this but if there is something reciprocal in nature to the connection mention it.
How do you know the connection?
When you connect you have seven options for categorizing the connection.
- Colleague – You work with now or did work with the person in the past. Folks be honest.
- Classmate – We went to school together or at the very least went to the same University.
- We have done business together.
- Friends – Pretty obvious
- Groups – We belong to the same LinkedIn group. This is a very powerful way to connect.
- Other – You will have to provide the connection’s e-mail address.
- I do not know xxx – If you specify this you will get a nasty pop up message saying “Invitations should only be sent to people you know personally.“
Use the one that is true and honest.
When you ask for a date you know you should be authentic and put your best foot forward. When connecting on LinkedIn be authentic!
Do not tell me we worked together when we have not! Do not tell me we are friends when we just met for two minutes at a networking event.
What if none of them are true? What if you just met at a conference very briefly, you work at different companies, you did not go to the same school and you do not have any groups in common?
I use the most powerful aspect of LinkedIn – LinkedIn Groups
I just met Mary at a conference and I have her business cards with her e-mail address, I could connect with her using the friend option and explain where we met. Well that is not really true.
Would I call up Mary and tell her I was her friend? That is like going immediately to a second date and skipping the first date.
What should I do instead, is check out Mary’s LinkedIn profile to see what groups she participates on LinkedIn. I will typically pick two groups that makes sense for me to belong and join them.
Why two groups?
I do not know how long it will take to be approved.
Once I have been approved to one of her groups, I will write a connection request like the following:
It was great meeting you at XYZ conference. (notice I specify where we met). I looked at your profile and saw that you belonged to ABC LinkedIn group. I just joined this group. It looks like I can learn a few things and contribute a bit in the group.
I look forward to meeting you again and corresponding about EFG (whatever we talked about at the conference). I would enjoy continuing the conversation. (Give Mary a reason to stay engaged)
Please accept this invitation to connect.
This invitation quickly tells Mary:
- Where we met
- What we have in common
- Gives her a reason to stay connected
- I am a real person and not just sending out SPAM
This is using the same tactics that men have used for years. If you want to meet a girl, you hang around those groups, classes, clubs,… where the girls you want to meet congregate. In this case, you join a LinkedIn group.
I am dropping all of the little hints that I like you and would like to get to know you. I want to go out on a date….eerrr… I want to network with you.
If she has no groups that makes sense to join then connect as a friend but explain that in the connection request.
Be authentic, personable and most importantly tell me how we know each other!
If you want a date, …errr… connecting on LinkedIn, then you should behave just like you are asking for a date!
Give it a try and let me know how it works!
Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, published in January 2013, which has been featured on Forbes.com, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.