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LinkedIn Etiquette: Requesting a Connection

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LinkedIn is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.

When you’re searching for a job in the video game industry, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for building your network. With over 450 million users, it’s by far the largest and most active professional social network on the planet. But there are some “unwritten rules” of LinkedIn etiquette, and you can end up embarrassing yourself if you aren’t thoughtful when you invite people to Connect. Stick to these 3 simple rules and you can’t go wrong.

1. Don’t Invite Somebody You’ve Never Met

Most professionals don’t accept connection requests from people they don’t know. LinkedIn has a fair number of spammers, which is why many users are wary about accepting connection requests from people they’ve never heard of. If you invite somebody that doesn’t know who you are they probably won’t accept and, worse, you’ll make a bad first impression.

The good news is that you don’t have to meet them face-to-face before they’ll accept. It’s perfectly okay to connect with somebody if you’ve met them over the phone, via email, or on a discussion forum if you’ve actually had a conversation with them. Just be sure they know you well enough that they won’t think “who the hell are you” when they get your request.

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2. Customize Your Message

When you send an invitation to connect, it defaults to a generic (and lame) introduction message. If you take the opportunity to override the default message with a custom message, it shows your new connection that you aren’t just spamming people – you care about connecting on a more personal level. Remind them where you met them and what you have in common.

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Here are some examples to help you get started.

  • “Hi, John. We met at GDC last week, and I enjoyed talking with you about Bay Area microbrews. I’m just getting started in the game industry, and would love to stay in touch. Take care, Bailey Smith.”
  • “Good morning! Thank you for visiting my school to tell us about your game studio. The information was really helpful for students who are just starting out. It would be great to stay in touch so I can return the favor some day! Sincerely, Mike Jones.”
  • “Hi Sandeep, thank you for the advice you gave me yesterday about how to improve my online art portfolio. I’ve already taken your advice to heart and am updating my layout today. I’d love to stay in touch, maybe we can work together someday.”

Note that the LinkedIn mobile app doesn’t let you include a custom message on some devices. So it’s best to use the full web site when making a new connection request, to guarantee that you get a chance to customize your note.

3. Stay In Touch

The whole point of LinkedIn is to stay in touch with professionals you’ve met, so that you can add value to each others’ careers and lives. So, stay in touch!

If you’re just starting out in your career, you might feel like you don’t have much to offer yet. That’s okay – you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, so there’s plenty of time to give back once you’re established.

In the meantime, LinkedIn’s activity feed makes it easy to stay in touch and let your connections know you’re thinking about them. Here are some ways you can leverage the feed to stay in touch:

  • When somebody posts an article or status that you like, let them know by clicking “Like” or leaving a comment
  • When you see that somebody gets a new job or a promotion, send them a message to say congratulations and ask how they’ve been doing lately
  • If you find a link or article that you think people in your network would like, share it
  • Whenever you get some value from a connection – if you’ve learned something from them, or they’ve helped you out in any way – send them a quick message to let them know and say “thanks”
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2 comments on “LinkedIn Etiquette: Requesting a Connection
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