My biggest pet peeve is when people I don’t know send me a request to connect on LinkedIn. What’s even worse is when there’s no photo to put a face with the name, or they don’t include a message that tells me how we know each other (if in fact we do) or why they think we should connect. Have they confused me with a different Peggy Parks? Are they simply trying to beef up their profile by adding people at random? Or do they have a legitimate reason for getting in touch but don’t know the proper protocol for social media?
I always urge my clients to include photos—a professional headshot is best—in their LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles. Otherwise your profile looks blank and incomplete—you could be a spam account for all anyone knows.
If you see an acquaintance online and want to add them, use the LinkedIn function that allows you to classify your relationship (friend, colleague at such-and-such company, etc.). However, I wouldn’t leave it at that. LinkedIn also allows you to choose between sending a generic “add me” message or a personal note, the latter of which is far more preferable.
Simply say, “Hi Jack, we met at the Tech Networking cocktail party last month, and I thought we should keep in touch in case.” You can mention where you work, or what you spoke about in past conversations. If you’re contacting the person for a business opportunity, but haven’t actually met, send a message that explains as much—for instance, “I would like to send you information about our product releases,” or “I am a headhunter looking for candidates with in your industry.” In the past I have added people, only to find them barraging me with emails about their services, forcing me to delete them as contacts. If I had known that they were using their LinkedIn contacts as a mailing list, I never would have added them.
LinkedIn can boost your career, but only if you use it wisely! Be strategic, not desperate!