Job seekers know LinkedIn can be a vital part of a successful job search. But use it incorrectly and you will alienate people in your network, create bad will and maybe even cost yourself opportunities. Here are some common LinkedIn mistakes and how to avoid them:
Impersonal Network Requests. A generic “I’d like to invite you to join my professional network” request does not create a warm, personal connection or give the receiver any reason to accept your invite. It conveys that you couldn’t be troubled to wrote a sentence or two. Worse, the receiver might not even remember who you are! Every request should be customized, reminding the receiver of your past connection and a positive association. It only takes a few seconds and goes a long way towards building a strong connection.
Not bothering to connect in advance of needing something. Reconnecting with someone in the context of asking a favor is awkward. An opening line like “I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m hoping you can help . . .” does not usually bring great results. It is far better to be continually proactively building your network so it’s there when you need it. Take a genuine interest in other people’s needs and interests and help them where you can. Then when you need assistance, you’ll be well positioned to ask for it.
Asking to your contact pick through his/her network. Unless you know someone very well, it’s not cool to write and say “Please look in your network and connect me with those who are in XYZ industry.” Do this instead:
- Network with your connection regularly so you’re up to speed on work, concerns and needs.
- Since you’re in one another’s networks on LinkedIn, you can view your connection’s network if they didn’t change their settings to hide their connection list. You don’t need to request permission to look. It’s just part of how LinkedIn works.
- If you find an individual with whom you would like to connect, make that request of your contact. You may ask for an introduction via email or ask your connection to forward your profile with an introduction. Be clear about why you’re asking for the connection and respect your connection’s right to decline your request.
Pushing too hard for a connection. It’s common for job seekers to reach out to someone in their network and say “I’m applying for a position at a company where one of your connections works. Do you think you could connect me to your friend?” It’s also common for professionals to decline that request. Why? They don’t know the third party well enough or they don’t feel comfortable putting their reputation on the line for you. Whatever the reason, respect it. Do not push!
Requesting a connection with someone you do not know. This one’s a little controversial. Fans of “open networking” will add anyone to their circle. Others believe you should only add people to your LinkedIn network that you know at some level. For some that means a simple handshake a networking event, while others feel they must know a person better before adding them to their network. If you meet a speaker at an event, it’s OK to ask them to join your network afterward. Remind them that you met and respect their right to decline the invitation. Beyond that, do not reach out to people you’ve never met before and ask them to join your network. A better approach would be to introduce yourself, ask them a question or get to know them first.
Making it difficult for others to help. If you are asking for an endorsement or an introduction, make it as easy as possible for the other person to do it In the case of an endorsement, make the request through LinkedIn and suggest what you would like the endorsement to focus on. When asking for an introduction, be specific about why you are asking and include all contact information so it’s very easy for the other person to help.
Learn more about making LinkedIn a powerful tool in your job search in the Jobfully Resource Library.