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Posted: October 26, 2009

Five tips for getting the most from LinkedIn

Knowing your Netiquette will gain you business and friends

John Heckers

I have just learned to "Tweet." At my advanced age of 53, my VP of Technology and Creative Services has just gotten me nested on Twitter. Follow me, if you'd like, @heckersdev.

I mention Twitter because I hear it has become a bit more popular than LinkedIn now. Be that as it may, for the executive job seeker or executive networker, LinkedIn is still the biggest bird on the block.

 If some simple manners are followed, it can be incredibly powerful for keeping up a network, finding a job, building an effective grapevine, finding employees, and even finding new executive friends. But with LinkedIn, like most instant technologies, is also easy to make a mistake.

Here are some of the rules that most executives think should be followed. A warning, though. There are people who are highly invested in doing things differently on LinkedIn, so I expect that these people will be pulling out their (well-used) Heckers dolls and sticking pins in them.

1). Don't ask me to invite you with an email. It is fine to ask people generally in an article or posting to generally ask people to invite you on LinkedIn. But it frosts my cookies when someone I don't know writes me a curt email and says "Feel free to invite me on LinkedIn and I'll accept." What is wrong with this? Two main things:

a). It uses one of your 3,000 invitations. The reason someone wants you to invite them is that they don't want to use up their invitations. You are not important enough to spend an invite on, so they want you to use one of your precious invites to connect with them. Often these letters are sent without the slightest reason why I should do so.

b). It is just plain rude. It's like meeting me at a networking event and saying that I can buy you lunch if I'd like --without any reason why I should. If someone has used all of their invitations, tell me why I should want to be connected with you and I might. But there are hundreds of rude, pushy, aggressive jerks on LinkedIn who just think that everyone should just want to link to them, but don't see you as important enough to spend an invite on.

Don't ask me to spend my time and resources on inviting you without giving me a darned good reason.

2). Don't ever "IDK" someone. If someone you don't know sends you a LinkedIn invitation, one of the options is to say "I don't know this person." Some people foolishly press this button.

Why "foolishly?" First, it is best to accept all LinkedIn invitations. You never know when you're going to want to connect to someone that this person has in their network. But secondly, hitting "IDK" gets the person who was kind enough to invite you a nasty letter from LinkedIn. If you get "IDKed" too many times, they cut you off, which can be a real disaster for many businesses or individuals. Too, it will get you known as an "IDKer" and people won't invite you.

3). If you don't know someone well, don't invite them on LinkedIn unless you ask them first, or they're a member of an open networking group that invites invites, so to speak. This is the best way to get "IDKed" yourself and it is rude, anyway. I accept all invites. but most people don't. Don't risk it without asking if it is OK first.

4). Don't SPAM your LinkedIn contacts. Don't send out solicitations for business to everyone on your LinkedIn contacts group. I, and most other people, truly hate it when our connections do that, and I go ahead and break the connection. LinkedIn is for networking, not obtaining a new SPAM list. And, if LinkedIn catches you doing it, they will toss you (and should)!

5). Always forward introductions unless you truly hate the person who has asked you to introduce them or know that the person is a bad individual. I always forward any intro requests I get, but I tell my contact how well I know the person I'm forwarding and all info I can about them.

One more great tip to truly make LinkedIn a powerful experience. Go to www.integratedalliances.com and sign up for a class (there is no connection with my company in any way).

They have great LinkedIn webinars and live classes, and can help you maximize your experience. The classes are also quite inexpensive, and you get a ton of material to assist you in utilizing LinkedIn.

Knowing your LinkedIn Netiquette and truly using LinkedIn will gain you business, friends, contacts, and vital intelligence anytime you are making a deal. Use it often and well.

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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Hello John, Your article is sooo timely and with valuable content. I am a new Linkedin member and would like to know more about how to make this networking format a more effective and powerful experience for me. Thanks also for the recommendation for Integrated Alliances. I will definitely be checking out the web-site. I’m glad to hear that LinkedIn is still the biggest bird on the block; however, are their other “professional” networkers that you can recommend and also how to use them effectively. Again, great tips and thank you! Adriane By Adriane on 2009 11 05
John - Great reminders on moving common sense etiquette to the new social media. I'm rather new at this and need to sort out how to use this media for business purposes vs personal purposes and keep them separte. Thanks also for the recommendation for Integrated Alliances. By Bob Garretson on 2009 10 30
Hi, John, these are some good tips - thanks for sharing! I never "IDK" someone - but if I get a generic invitation from someone I don't recognize immediately (or after reviewing the person's profile), I often reply to ask if we know each other. I do connect with people I haven't met before (that's what LinkedIn is all about!), but if I should know them, or we have met before, I certainly appreciate a nudge in that direction. I never send invitations without a personal note, though I have sent them to complete strangers without a request first(so we disagree here). For example, to someone I don't know: "I'm trying to relocate to XYZ and am building my network of contacts. You look like a great person to know - can we connect?" Or "Hi, I see that you're also a Chi Omega alum. I'm building up my network on LinkedIn and thought we could connect!" I've always received positive responses, and this type of approach has helped me build personal connections. Unless you know the person REALLY well, I always recommend a personal note in your invitation ("Great seeing you at PRSA last night!"). Using these techniques helped me build a remote network and relocate to another state. (@SRasmussen on Twitter) By Sarah Rasmussen on 2009 10 28
Two books that I found to be very helpful (as a starter on LinkedIn) are "I'm on LinkedIn, now what?" by Jason Alba. And "The LinkedIn Personal Trainer". Not every suggestion in the book was useful or applied to my situation, but they both have tips and tasks that help you get started and then utilize LinkedIn effectively. Maurina By Events Submit on 2009 10 27
John, A truely great arcticle. Simple, to the popint and most importantly, valuable content. I am a new Linkedin memeber and am enjoying the experience but I am often confused as to how to use it. I recognise it's power and want to harness it more effectively. Thanks, Mike By Mike Brunetti on 2009 10 27

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