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The Right Way to Connect on LinkedIn?

You’ve just polished off your LinkedIn profile and as you gaze with pride at your well-crafted summary you decide to start trying to connect with some employers. If your first thought is to just start clicking the ‘connect’ button on anyone you find related to your industry – STOP!

This could be the first step of your interaction on LinkedIn and, as you hover your mouse over the ‘Send Invitation’ button, if the box you’re looking at looks similar to the one below you need to rethink your process.

LinkedIn Invite box

It’s very easy to use the generic, default message, after all that’s what it’s there for right? But you need to think about how to engage with a connection, making them want to click to view your profile and find out more about you. A generic message, just like a generic cover letter, doesn’t do this. It suggests that you haven’t thought about what to say to them, just clicked a few buttons. Or even worse, that you’ve just sent the same messages to several hundred people.

You want your message to make the person you’re trying to connect with feel special, that out of all the people on LinkedIn you’ve decided to connect with them. This might be because they went to the same university as you, that you have the same interests, or that you met them at a recent careers fair. Mentioning these things in your mail will help them see the benefit in engaging with you.

Now you don’t want to go into too much detail. Just because the box keeps expanding doesn’t mean you can reel off a couple of pages; keep your message to the point. You don’t want someone looking at a long email and clicking away before they get to the good stuff because they don’t have time. Make sure you have laid out your important points first and then offer the option for them to get back to you if they need further information.

LinkedIn Chocolates

Very importantly, don’t just ask for a job. Imagine how that looks to an employer. If they have vacancies they’re probably on their website or being advertised on sites like CareerHub. You’re basically stating that you haven’t bothered to do any research, an immediate turn-off for employers. Besides this, connecting with people on LinkedIn is much more than instant gratification. You’re looking to build your network over time into a resource you can use throughout your working life.

So craft your first contact with care:

  • Think about what you are saying and how you are saying in it
  • Be nice! Make sure your message is polite, with a greeting and sign-off
  • Proof read. Check your spelling and grammar before you hit send. Some web browsers come with a spell-check built-in but write your message in an editing programme, like Microsoft Word, to double check.
  • Don’t demand a response. It’s up to them if they reply. Some employers may click ‘connect’ without replying, count this as a win and don’t push it
  • Give them a reason to connect. Do your research and find the best way to make a connection

Find out more on starting your LinkedIn profile and how to engage online through social networks by searching for ‘Social Networks’ on CareerHub


photo credit: nan palmero

Jerome Price Photograph

Jerome Price is the Online & Digital Content Manager in the Careers and Placements Service at the University of Hertfordshire

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