Last time I described the tactic of sending cheerful and brief congratulations or acknowledgement messages to professional contacts who Linked In reports in the Updates section. This is an easy, non-intrusive way to initiate communication with a valued contact with whom you have never interacted or with whom you have lost touch. I hope you tried this and got some positive results! If so, maybe you are emboldened as I was and are now ready to take another step!
Mysteriously Linked In provides fairly accurate suggestions of “people you may know.” I’m not sure how it does this but it does manage to come up with names of people I have in fact actually spoken to or worked with at least a little. My first thought when I saw these suggestions was “Oh, I haven’t seen or spoken to that person in ages, how could I ask them to join my network on Linked In?” But then I started thinking “How would I feel if I received an invitation from the person – pleased or deeply offended?” “Pleased” was the immediate answer. So I started selectively sending personalized and inquisitive invitations to the people Linked In suggested with whom I felt would really like to be in touch. Personalizing the invitation by briefly referring to something we had worked on together or a shared professional experience assured me that we really did have something in common. Inquiring briefly about what the person was currently doing professionally and how they were enjoying it assured me that my invitation was as motivated by my genuine interest in the other person as by my desire to expand my network. If I find it easy and authentic to include both these components, I press send. When I get an acceptance, I make a point of sending a short, warm message back asking to get together to catch up or to catch up by email. Three bits of advice:
1) Don’t overwhelm your new contact with tons of email or requests for help. It is unlikely you would feel comfortable doing this in person, so don’t do it electronically!
2) Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get an immediate acceptance. Many Linked In members only check their messages infrequently. Be patient and enjoy watching your list of contacts and expand and the number of hits on your profile spike!!!
3) Do stay in touch periodically with your core contacts – send a note every 2 or 3 months. More on how to do this in later posts.