Technology has enabled us to communicate and connect with each other faster than at any point in history. Mobile technology has pushed the envelope even further allowing us to connect on the go. Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Orkut, Google+, etc. provide forums for people to connect with one another to share information, pictures, and emails, thus classifying them as social networking sites.
While technology has made it easier to connect, there is still a social etiquette we need to follow when socially networking. For example, have you ever received a “networking” invite from someone you didn’t know? Chances are if people don’t know you, your request will be ignored, or worse deleted. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use social tools to network or meet new people, but sending a connection request to someone you don’t know is a social faux paux.
Most people think that the bigger your network is, the better it is. I would challenge that assumption. Quality is no substitute for quality. While you may think that having more people in your network means you have the potential to hear about more information, think about the purpose of your network request. If you are networking to learn more about a subject area, hear about jobs or interact, consider networking through groups.
Here are some etiquette tips to successfully socially network on LinkedIn:
- Start with your own profile- The first thing people do when they get your network request is look up your profile. By putting yourself out there you need to be prepared to be looked at and judged. People will be looking at you to assess whether it’s worth their while to connect. People don’t want to network with a blank profile. Take the time to enhance your profile by adding a picture, updating your summary and work experience and skills. Your profile is a reflection of you, what first impression will you make? Social etiquette tip, don’t start seeking connections until your profile is presentable.
- Join groups or alumni. One of the most under estimated resources available to people are LinkedIn groups. Groups are one of best ways to engage, meet new people, participate in discussions and find jobs. The best thing? You don’t have to individually connect to anyone to join. Groups allow you to take time to cultivate a relationship, and get to know people. Think of it as dating without a commitment. Social etiquette tip; once you start to build relationships take it one step further and network one on one. This builds the quality of your network.
- Group interaction. If you are participating in a group, remember, everyone has an opinion. That opinion may not be the same as yours. Social etiquette tip; when commenting or sharing your opinion, don’t belittle someone else or dismiss their comments. Share your opinion and be respectful of others comments.
- Ask for introductions. If you want to connect with someone who is a 2nd degree connection, (connected to you through someone else), ask your direct connection to make an introduction. Social etiquette tip, be prepared to articulate why you want to connect, not simply to “network”. This will help the person making the introduction craft a better message. People are far more likely to respond and read information from someone they know.
- Send a Message before sending a connection invite. Most social networking sites allow you to message people you don’t know. Social etiquette tip, rather than send a connection request, send a message introducing yourself and the context of your request to connect. This gives the recipient some more information about the nature of your request. Once interaction take place it makes sending and accepting the network request more genuine and relevant.
- Be Relevant: When you need information, help finding resources, or are looking for new staff/jobs, reach out to your current network and groups for help. Post a status update on your profile and groups so it appears in your networks newsfeeds and groups discussion thread. Social etiquette tip, don’t bombard people with information. If you start to clutter your networks new feeds, chances are you may be moved to the “hidden” and no longer show up on newsfeeds.
- Networks are for sharing: Networking etiquette isn’t only about receiving, it’s also about giving. Have you received an InMail that someone in your network may benefit from? Social etiquette tip, share information that is relevant and beneficial to your network. Sharing information will build your credibility and keep your network interactive.
- Cultivate the relationship. Networking is ultimately about building relationships. It shouldn’t be treated in a just in time way. Meaning, don’t reach out only when you need something. Good networking takes time. Successful networking is exemplified by having regular interactions. Social etiquette tip, add a social component to networking. Reach out to your network to touch base, have a causal lunch or meet up at an event.
What tips do you have?
by Ann Barrett- Director, eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy