Networking online

May 7th, 2014

What's in a handshake? I’ve used this image a few times and I’m using it again here, as it reflects what I feel about this topic, how do you shake hands online?

There are many guide books, video clips and training sessions about Social media, online networking and, in particular, LinkedIn as a great business tool. All of these guides and training resources, including my own guide will tell you to personalise your LinkedIn invitations. Yet, many, many people simply click “Connect”, seemingly without any thought as to how this will be viewed by the receiver.

At any moment in time, I have a number of such invitations in my Inbox, with one of the standard wordings “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” sometimes with the addition of “Since you are a person I trust” at the start, all from people I don’t know.

Maybe we’veĀ  met and I’ve forgotten – it’s great if someone remembers me from 2 or 3 years ago, but remind me please, especially if there’s no photo to jog my memory. Maybe we have connections in common and that’s why I appeared in a “You might know” list … so check this out and let me know. If you find something on someone’s profile which prompts you to send an invitation, tell the other person.

Many people delete such invitations, many click ignore, sometimes followed by “I don’t know” – too many of these and you will be blocked from sending invitations. I, and many others I know, send a quick question back first “Why would you like to add me to your professional network?” I sometimes get the response that I sound upset or angry, which is interesting as:

  1. how do you sound upset in a written communication as the tone is largely how the reader reads it?
  2. if using your own words and phrases back to you seems to imply such a tone, how do you think the tone seems to the person you invited?

If I don’t get an answer within a couple of weeks, I’ll delete the invitation. Sometimes I get a response about why they want to connect, maybe saying they are new to this or they didn’t realise they couldn’t personalise the invite from an app; at this stage, we may well connect. However, if you follow up this first invitation with a “sales mail”, expect a VERY terse response.

At the risk of repeating myself, and every other guide to LinkedIn I’ve seen – always personalise your invitations.

If you’d like to find out how to make the most of the valuable time you spend on your online and face-to-face networking, contact Sue for details of workshops and coaching sessions, tailored to you and your business.

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