The Worst Mistake You Can Make On LinkedIn (That Everyone Is Guilty Of)
Original article on Forbes.com
The worst mistake you can make on LinkedIn is to “connect” with a person and not do anything further. Have you noticed that LinkedIn encourages you to start a conversation with new connections? (The professional networking site now uses this language in email subject lines.) Do just that. Follow-up. Have a conversation with the people you connect with on the platform. When you create a dialogue, add value. Here are five steps to capitalize on opportunities to network:
1. Follow-up with the connection.
It’s easy to connect with people on LinkedIn. Click the blue “Connect” button on the person’s profile, add a note to the invitation (yes, always do this) and press “send now.” Your work is not done. You are just getting started. Once the person accepts your LinkedIn invitation, follow-up. Send the individual a note. While this person is now a first order connection, you have yet to really connect until you have a dialogue.
2. Share your interest.
In the note, briefly share why you want to connect with the person. Do you share an alma mater? Is this person in the same industry as you? Is this person a member of a professional association in which you are interested? Do they work at an organization that interests you? If you mentioned your reason for reaching out in your invitation note, it is okay to mention it again.
3. Briefly tell the person about yourself.
While the person could look at your LinkedIn profile, not all people will take the time to review your profile. Similar to when you are interviewing and the interviewer has your resume in front of them, don’t assume they have read it or reviewed it in detail.
Write a couple of sentences that are relevant to the person and what they do. The key is being relevant so it sparks their interest in learning about you. This means doing your homework and reviewing their profile ahead of time to understand their interests and goals.
4. Pick up the phone.
Try to transition the connection on LinkedIn to a phone conversation. The digital world can only do so much for you. When you add a vocal element to the conversation, you bring in emotion. Hearing a person’s voice helps them realize your passion, interest and curiosity. Use your voice to make a greater impact.
5. Touch base occasionally.
You’ve sent an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, followed-up the connection with a note and had a phone conversation with the person. To reap the benefits of your connections, stay top-of-mind. When you come across an article, for example, that reminds you of your conversation and the field they are in, consider sending it to them. If you make another connection that you think would help the person, consider connecting the two people in your network.
Identify ways in which you can add value to their lives and careers. The more helpful you can be, the more appreciative the individual will be. The more appreciative the person is, the more likely they will think of you when opportunities arise.
Don’t connect with someone on LinkedIn and do nothing with the connection. Leverage the opportunity to start a conversation that could prove fruitful to both people. Invest time on the frontend so it can pay dividends on the backend.