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Sunday, 05 November 2017
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LinkedIn Networking: Why It’s Like Dating and How to Nail the Connection Game

LinkedIn Networking: Why It’s Like Dating and How to Nail the Connection Game

Making connections on LinkedIn is like dating or trying to make a new friend as an adult. Here’s what I mean:


You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger in a bar and immediately ask them to leave and go hang out 1:1 with you, right? Clearly not because that would be both creepy and insanely bold, to put it nicely.


To get a “Yes” as reply to the “Want to go out on a date?” or “Want to get out of here?” question you first need to:


Phase 1: Introduce yourself
Phase 2: Develop rapport (i.e. make a connection over some shared thing/interest/experience
Phase 3: Have a conversation


The same is true of making connections on LinkedIn. Asking for a call, meeting, or email address right off the bat is a great way to get ignored or deleted. It’s too strong, too soon 🙅🏻‍♀️


Instead, take this four step approach:

1. Do Your Research

Always start by reading the person’s profile to find something you have in common or can comment on before making a connection request. It could be a shared connection, networking group, volunteer organization, past job, university or comment on a post they shared. There is a LOT of info in many people’s profiles so take the time to find something.


This does take a few extra minutes, but it’s worth it for multiple reasons:


1. It shows you are not trying to just spam request anyone of their company/level.
2. It will help you personalize your message thereby standing out from the masses who may be reaching out to them.

2. Be specific and personable in the connection note.

When you first request a new connection, there is an option to include a note. ALWAYS include a note.


Unless this person is already a BFF you simply haven’t connected with on LinkedIn yet, you always want to include the note. Doing so will answer the question everyone poses in their head when they see a new connection request:

Or to put it in professional terms:


Why do I want to be connected with this person? 


If you can answer that, you will increase your chance of being accepted.


Like all good marketing, this note has only ONE goal:


To get the connection accepted.


It is not there to pitch them, explain how awesome you are at your job, or sell your products or services. It is only there to give them a reason to accept you into their circle. This is where the pre-connection research comes into play.


LinkedIn has a 200 character limit on these messages so keep it friendly, focused, and cover these 3 points:


1. Personalized greeting
2. Mention what you have in common
3. Answer why connecting with you could benefit them


Example A: (195 characters)


Hi Jaclyn! I saw you ran the Chicago marathon last year. Same! It really was the best day, right? Always love connecting with other professionals who find time to train for long distance races.


Each sentence of this directly addresses points 1, 2 and 3 in order.


Do not waste valuable characters by your name (i.e. mine is 8 letters and that is valuable real estate in these notes) or explaining what you do. They can see your name with the request along with what you do. Use the characters for the message itself.


While my campaign goal (i.e. end goal with outreach) may be to work with her, or get on her referral list, the goal of this first message is just to connect.


Once that is done, then move onto Step 3.

3. Develop a rapport

Ideally your new connection will reply to your message upon accepting your request. Once they do, you can continue that conversation hitting Phase 2 and 3 of the game plan at the same time.


If they do not reply to your message, give it two business days then follow-up your initial note with another one continuing the conversation on the same topic OR sharing a recent piece of content you read/created that you think would benefit them.


It should not be gated in any way, but truly focused on a value-add for them. Something that’ll further demonstrate how you are here to HELP, not sell, them in their professional life.

Try to end your messages with a question so they feel more inclined to reply. Continuing the example of my connection with Jaclyn, a followup message could be:


Thanks for accepting the request! Do you have any marathons planned this year?


I saw you recently asked for recommendations on reputable ________. I recently discovered _____________ that you may find helpful. (insert link)

Is this what you were after?

4. Continue the conversation & move offline.

Going back to our dating analogy, you need to get into a flow with conversation before you can ask for a 1:1 date.


That holds true in this new business relationship as well. You need to be sure there has been an ongoing conversation via DMs before you can get them offline to a call or request their email.


That could happen in a matter of days, or it could take weeks/months. If they have not replied to either of your first two messages within a week of the most recent one being sent, then make one more follow up of the same nature as Message 2.


If they still seem to be ghosting your messages, engage with their public posts instead to stay top of mind without overwhelming their inbox.


Once the rapport and conversation have been developed, make the ask to move offline. My best advice, keep it simple!


“Let me send that over to you via email. What’s your address?”
“Would you be up for a Zoom coffee to chat further next week?”

“Let me research that and I’ll give you when I have an answer. What’s the best number to reach you?”


Again, you want to approach it like asking for a date, because truly that is what you are doing. It’s just a business date vs. a romantic one.

Final Advice & Takeaways

The more you remain truly focused on connecting on a human level with the other person, the more success you will find on LinkedIn.


Remember: people do not want to be sold to. They want solutions to their problems.


And to be acknowledged as an intelligent human. Linkedin is all about relationships so focus on that and you’ll be successful in expanding your network!


After all, even if they do not turn out to be a client, they CAN be a referral partner and that is always a win.

Channing Muller is an award winning marketing & public relations consultant and the principal of DCM Communications. She works with event professionals and business owners to grow and scale their businesses with refined marketing strategies developed through one-on-one and group consulting, customized marketing programs and public relations. She has been named a "25 Young Event Pro to Watch" by Special Events magazine and "40 Under 40" by Connect Meetings. Channing is an avid runner, lover of labrador retrievers, good food, delicious drinks, and an advocate for the American Heart Association. Follow her on Instagram @ChanningMuller.

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