LinkedIn is one of the most valuable business resources, but all too often it’s abused. Even experienced business professionals and otherwise considerate human beings often manage to violate LinkedIn etiquette. Below is a guide to keep handy should you ever need it (or know of others who could use it).
Don’t: Send mass requests for testimonials.
Do: Give testimonials to others. Most of the time, they’ll return the favor to you. Even if they don’t, it’s actually a good thing if you’ve written more testimonials for others than others have written about you.
Don’t: Send someone you don’t know at all a request to connect.
Do: Send someone you don’t know at all a message that you’d like to discuss ways to work together, or brainstorm, or gab about people you know in common, or see if you’ll be at any of the same conferences soon. As soon as you have some kind of rapport – maybe it’s instantaneous, maybe it takes awhile; maybe it’s from an in-person meeting, maybe it’s entirely virtual – connect with them on LinkedIn.
Don’t: Ask someone to pass on a LinkedIn request with an impersonal message, or no message at all.
Do: Treat any message you write on LinkedIn, whether related to job hunting or not, as a cover letter. Make sure it’s clear what you’re writing about and why you’re reaching out to this specific person.
Don’t: Connect with old colleagues or classmates who you don’t know.
Do: Connect with old colleagues or classmates who you do know. While LinkedIn readily provides you with a list of alumni from organizations to which you once belonged, connecting directly only matters if you actually know the person.
Don’t: Take it personally if you’ve committed any of these don’ts.
Do: Take it as a time to rethink your networking strategies if you have.
A few further rules:
- Be respectful of others’ time.
- Be respectful of others’ networks.
- Do more acts of kindness – bring people together, write testimonials, pass on relevant messages – than others do for you. If most people follow this one rule, we’ll all be growing the value of our networks.