Differentiate yourself using these three easy techniques:
1. Personalize your connection requests
Modify each LinkedIn connection request. Instead of the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” email, tell your prospective connection why you want to connect. Some ideas: where you met, what you like about her LinkedIn profile, how you know her, and, most importantly, why you want to connect.
2. Respond to connection requests
When you receive a LinkedIn connection request, respond promptly. Read the profile of the person sending the request. If you decide to connect, send a quick follow up email immediately after you accept the connection. LinkedIn makes it easy. Once you’ve accepted the invitation to connect, click “Send a message” to start your new relationship on LinkedIn.
Thank your new connection for her connection invitation. Comment on something you know about her — either from her profile or her background. By clicking “Send a message,” you are continuing the email string from the connection request and have the ability to scroll down to see the sender’s original message, making it easier for you to personalize your response.
If you don’t know why she reached out to you, ask! Here is the response I received when I asked Jeff Hill, a recent LinkedIn connection of mine, why he reached out to me:
What made me want to link with you…first thing that got me interested was your last name. Its kind of rare and I know a guy in Dallas with that name. Then, I looked at your profile. Wow! Very nice! 16 people have recommended you. Very, very nice. Incredible, really. Your use of the Summary section–awesome. Tons of info; plenty of white space.
Wow! How cool is that? Thanks, Jeff! What a great way to start our LinkedIn relationship. Now instead of being just another connection, Jeff stands out because he took the time to differentiate himself.
3. Offer to help
Instead of asking for introductions to someone else’s contacts, be proactive. Reciprocate. Share what you know. Offer to help. Reach out to your connections — new and old — and ask them who would be a good connection for them.
Virtually introduce your LinkedIn connections who might have synergies. Both parties will be grateful to you for your thoughtfulness and will reciprocate freely.
Networking online through LinkedIn shares many of the attributes of traditional, face-to-face networking. Spending a few extra minutes to differentiate yourself in the sea of LinkedIn users will go a long way toward your success.