Lately I’ve been getting more requests through LinkedIn and I started thinking about how a whole new etiquette is needed to deal with the issues that arise.
Here are some thoughts around sending requests through others via LinkedIn.
1. Don’t try to send a request more than two degrees away. Because all the people linking you and the recipient have to pass the message forward, you are counting on links that are too weak to really sustain a request. Better to find another route to the person than have the request die on the vine within LinkedIn.
2. Always consider what value there is for the recipient to respond. Lots of request are of the “buy something from me” or “help me get a job” form. These won’t work. To establish a relationship with a new contact you need to offer them something that clearly has benefit for them not you. Start to extend your network by offering free tips, free services, suggesting stuff, or just sending them a compliment on some press/product/site, etc. Think of it as making a new friend not a sales pitch. And since LinkedIn gives members the ability to broadly suggest what they want to hear about you should never send messages outside of what they have asked to receive.
3. Don’t ask the recipient to link to you, that’s for friends and this person by definition is not a friend. Ask them to allow you to contact them directly. Too many people try to build their link count instead of really connecting with people. One exception of course is when you are reconnecting with someone you already know but you don’t have a current e-mail address for them.
4. Find the right person to connect with. Don’t assume that everyone at company X is involved in their core product. See that you have the right person to connect to first so you don’t waste your connector’s and the recipient’s time because you didn’t do your homework.
5. You can now find the best path to your recipient if there are multiple connectors, so choose wisely. Choose the shortest path but also the one that appears to have the closest bond and the one you have not already overtaxed with past requests.
6. Don’t overwhelm any of your connectors. Don’t send more than one request through a particular connector in a week. If you are doing more than that you should be sending them a gift of some sort for the work they are doing on your behalf.
7. Thank the connector and let them know what happened after they forwarded on a request. Then they’ll be more likely to forward your next request.