If you’re a regular LinkedIn user – if you’re not it’s one of the best tools you could arm yourself with right now – then you will likely have encountered the dreaded spam messenger. We’re talking about the complete randoms who pop up in your inbox, the ones who are “Just reaching out…” or “I came across your profile and wondered if…”.
They’re usually annoying, usually not relevant and almost always sent straight to the bin.
But, as we’ve found before when speaking to the experts, reaching out to other LinkedIn users and building your network is something to be encouraged, especially if you’re searching for a new job. And we imagine right, a lot of you out there are dealing with the dilemma or waiting out the pandemic to get your old job back, or deciding whether to change career completely.
To find out the right way to go about “reaching out”, we once again turned to Joe Ryan, a partner at Australian consultancy 4Twenty to get the lowdown on the dos and don’ts of LinkedIn etiquette.
Joe immediately tells us that you should try and tailor your opening line depending on the person you’re trying to form a connection with. “Personalisation is hugely important when building your network as you will be able to leverage from it at a later date.”
As for opening lines, well, LinkedIn is hardly Tinder – although some users and algorithms may suggest otherwise – and you’re not trying to hook up with them. At least, not in the traditional sense. Instead, you should keep it personal, without being creepy.
“I always like to send them a short note along with the connection…”, says Joe, “…clarifying to them that I’m ‘building out my network’; ‘would love to connect with you, we do a lot of our own work in your space.”
He adds it “doesn’t need to be any more detailed than that”, i.e. you don’t want to reveal you’ve found their Instagram profile and are keen to know what went down on their 2014 Hawaii holiday.
“These brief but personal introductions are to the point and encourage them to view your profile and accept your connection.”
If you’re accepted, then you’ll do well to send a quick follow-up message saying “‘thanks for connecting’, it’s courteous and if the opportunity is right, it will initiate the conversation.”
Joe adds that you can choose to be a little more personal if you want (although as we mentioned earlier, still keep it professional), by “noting things from their profile such as how many/specific mutual connections you have, or you can comment on their recent activity such as a post they may have liked.”
“You can even draw on personal interests the two of you may have”, based on information in their LinkedIn profile, of course.
“These will all be well-received points within your message and all will confirm to the recipient that this isn’t just another spam InMail and you as the sender has taken the time to write to them.”
In some ways, connecting with someone through LinkedIn can be likened to picking up at a bar, you want to come across confident, not arrogant. Once you’ve made a connection, well, then whatever happens after that in or outside of work is at your own discretion.