How to use Linkedin effectively

Author -  Linda Coles [Guest]

LinkedIn etiquette that will help you stand out from the crowd 

Very few people ignore you in a real life face-to-face networking situations.  So why do they do it to you online? The simple answer is because they probably don't even realize that they are! 

Be honest, do you follow up every LinkedIn connection request you get? No, probably not.  I bet you click "accept", and that is as far as you go. 

When someone requests to connect with you and you simply click accept and then make no effort to carry on the conversation, you are simply both saying hello to each other and it stops dead there. The only thing you gain by doing this is a string of connections that don't have any real value.  You become a connection collector.

So how can you use social etiquette to really make your LinkedIn connections valuable and stand out from the crowd at the same time? 

Follow these 4 steps below and watch your reputation grow. 

View LinkedIn as your own boardroom of connections versus your coffee shop connections on Twitter or Facebook. They tend to be managers, directors, business owners, CEOs and the like. 


 #1: Send personalized connection requests.

 When you first send a possible contact an invitation, do it from their own profile page by clicking the "add to your network link".

We will use Paul as an example. By adding Paul this way rather than simply going to the "add connections" tab, you can send a personalized message, such as "Thanks for the coffee yesterday, it was great to catch up".  

This gives you the opportunity to remind Paul where you know him from.  This is particularly useful if you're getting back in touch after a long period of time, say from an old job or your school days. 

If you simply send a connection request from the Add Connections box, there is no facility to personalize your message. 

This might be a quick and easy way to add a handful of new connections, but spend the time and do it right by adding your personal touch to each one individually by following the steps above.


 #2: Reply when accepting a connection request.

 All too often I receive the standard email from Linkedin that says a connection request has been accepted, but I rarely then get a short message from the new connection saying "hi".  

When Paul has accepted my connection request, he could then send a short message back. I like to take a look at my new connections profile if I am not too familiar with them, and find something I can comment on.

Now that may be something like he comes from my home town, or works for a company I know well, or perhaps I can see from his interests that he is a cyclist and so am I. Whatever it may be, try and find something to start a short conversation to build on your relationship together. Make the effort to find out more.  

So I've covered a couple of the initial and basic steps we tend to forget about.  Now let's look at composing a message to a group of our connections.


#3: Composing a group mail out.   


First, you can only send a message to 50 people at any one time.  This is a good thing, otherwise I am sure you would see a lot of spam. There are a couple of things to note here: 

1.      Your Opening:  If you're sending an email to a group of connections, think about your greeting. How are you going to address them?  I suggest you start with something like "Hi everyone" or "Greetings to you all" and then immediately say "Please excuse my lack of personalization of this email as I am sending this out to a group of connections". That way, you can be forgiven and you have addressed any possible bad manners critics.

 2.      Hide Other's Emails:  Always uncheck the box that says "allow recipients to see each other's email address". This then makes it a BCC or blind carbon copy. Value other people's privacy by not sharing their email address with everyone else 

When you receive a message yourself this way, respond where possible, depending on if the content is relevant to you or not. If the sender has followed the rules below about message content and what to add, hopefully you did find something of interest.

What about the message content? 

If you want your connections to leave you in droves, then feel free to write about all the good things you do or can offer from your company!

I have made this mistake in the past myself and then I came to my senses.  I realized I needed to treat this form of communicating just the same way as my newsletters. By adding valuable resources. 

People don't want to hear about you all the time and what you can offer, but they do want to know about how you could possibly help fix one of their problems.  

Nowhere in my messages is there anything about my company; simply bits of information I think would be great to pass on. Maybe a great book that most businesses could probably utilize, a free business event being put on and a website address that may save a business a bit of money on cheap stationery for example. 

By keeping in touch this way, my aim is to simply add value, but at the same time, put myself back on the radar of my connections.


#4: How to ask for recommendations  

Recommendations are a valuable part of your Linkedin profile and could be the one thing that gets you the deal when a possible client is comparing you to your competitor. Most people only have a couple of recommendations so you can stand out from the crowd with a good number of genuine and applicable recommendations. I suggest 10 as a minimum, but feel free to ask for more.  

You will notice it’s another auto generated template that needs personalizing, not only the body of the message but also the subject line. I like to change mine to read something like “Recommendation request” as the subject line and “Are you able to write a recommendation about the presentation I did for your company last week?” in the main body. Don’t make the request too long, but be clear on what you want a recommendation for.  

If you are asking Paul for a recommendation about a seminar he attended that you spoke at, you could change the message to say "I hope you enjoyed the seminar last week. If you feel that you are able to write a brief recommendation about how you found my presentation and speaking skills, I would appreciate it. I totally understand if you would prefer not to." Kind regards…… 

There is no need to open your message with "Dear… " as LinkedIn will automatically add that in for you. 

For the subject line, you may want to keep it simple such as "recommendation request please". 

In a nutshell, you should look at personalizing every aspect of LinkedIn that you can, making each and every standard template your own. It may take you a little longer, but the value you'll get from doing the job right, will far out way the effort.

Ask yourself, if you were meeting face to face, what would you be doing differently?

People easily judge on first impressions, so make yours a great one, each and every time you connect.



About the author:

Linda Coles is a speaker, trainer and consultant on building relationships online and has over 20 years’ business experience spanning the UK and Australasia.  As well as her own website you can also read Linda's articles on   




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