Message on LinkedIn (40+ New LinkedIn Hacks 2019)

Message on LinkedIn (2019)

How to message on LinkedIn

You use LinkedIn messages to contact a friend about anything, from simple congratulations on a work anniversary to a request for a favor for you or a friend. InMail enables you to directly communicate with anyone in the LinkedIn network through a private LinkedIn message.

 

I also cover what to do when you get a request from a connection on LinkedIn and How to send a Message on LinkedIn

 

Using InMail versus Using LinkedIn Messages

Your first question is most likely, “What’s the difference between sending a regular LinkedIn message and using InMail?”  The answer comes down to how connected you are with the person you want to contact.

 

Every LinkedIn user decides on his own contact level, and a user can decline to allow any message or InMail to reach him, regardless of the sender. If you don’t want to receive any messages or InMail, simply deselect all the Contact Settings options. 

 

If you don’t mind your network sending you messages but don’t want to have to deal with any InMail, just deselect the InMail option in the Communications part of the Settings & Privacy page, specifically the Messages from Members and Partners section. 

 

Otherwise, leave the InMail option selected, because it’s a valuable tool for sending and receiving communication with people who might become a valuable part of your network or help you with one of your professional goals.

 

Understanding LinkedIn messages

Message on LinkedIn

 

On LinkedIn, communication with your network (and the LinkedIn network at large) occurs for a variety of reasons. Whether the message is mundane or ultra-important, being able to communicate via LinkedIn makes your professional life a little easier.

 

Because you don’t have to dig up email addresses or past conversations, and you have the sender’s LinkedIn profile information at your fingertips as you communicate.

 

LinkedIn has created a centralized Messages system that accommodates all varieties of communication between you and other LinkedIn users. Here are some benefits of the LinkedIn messaging system:

 

Threaded conversations: 

In some email systems, every message you receive sits by itself in your inbox or a special folder, and every message you send is in the Sent folder. Therefore, to reconstruct a conversation, you may have to hunt through many messages.

With LinkedIn, all your messages with a person are on one thread, so you can review the history of your conversation.

 

You see the dates when each message was sent or received. You can exchange files as well as text, save time by using prebuilt replies, and most importantly, read a chronological thread of your discussion.

 

Easy searches:

Type a name or keyword in the search messages box below the Messaging header, and LinkedIn will check all messages for those terms. Some systems allow you to search only the subject line quickly, but with a LinkedIn Messages search, you can search the subject line and message body quickly and the results pop up on the same screen.

 

Group messaging:

You can start one single thread but have multiple recipients to the message so that everyone in the group can read and interact simultaneously. Even if you start a conversation with just one person, you can add more connections to the conversation as you communicate.

You can also decide whether to include the conversation history so that newcomers to the conversation can see past discussions.

 

Understanding your inbox

Your communications hub is the LinkedIn inbox, which you access by clicking the Messaging icon in the top navigation bar. The list of messages in your inbox appears. Keep the following in mind when navigating your inbox:

 

Starting a new message: 

To start a new conversation, click the blue pencil in a box icon. A message box appears in the middle of the screen. In the top line in the message box, type the name of the LinkedIn member to whom you want to send a message. Then, below that line, type your message.

 

Using the icons on the bottom of the reply window:

You can click the icons along the bottom of the reply window to attach an image or a file to the conversation or send a preprogrammed response (such as Thanks or Not In addition), by clicking the three dots next to the Send button.

 

You can choose the Click Send option, where the message is sent only when you click the Send button, or the Press Enter option, which mimics the functionality of a chat window, where pressing the Enter key sends your reply.

 

Using the filters:

By default, you see all messages in your inbox. If you click the filter icon to the right of the Search Messages heading (above your first message), you can choose a specific category, such as My Connections, Unread, InMail, or Blocked.

 

Taking action on the conversation: 

Click the three dots next to the person’s name in the main window to display action items for this conversation. You can add people to the existing conversation, mute the conversation (which turns off your email notifications when new comments are made in this conversation), mark it as unread, delete it, or report it as spam.

 

Achieving a conversation: If you want to have access to your message but don’t want to keep it in your inbox, hover your mouse cursor over the date of the message in the left side of the screen, and then click the Archive This Conversation icon

 

Getting to know InMail

Because everyone on LinkedIn has a profile and a secure message inbox, communicating with other people online is easy. LinkedIn allows you to send InMail directly to an intended party, regardless of whether she is directly or indirectly connected with you.

 

The email is delivered immediately to the recipient’s web-based inbox on the LinkedIn site (and if the recipient has configured her settings to get emails of all her InMail, in the inbox at her email address).

 

The sender never learns the recipient’s address, so each party has some privacy. The recipient can then read your profile and decide whether to respond.

 

The cost of using InMail depends on your premium account level. If you have a Business Plus or Job Seeker account, you can purchase additional InMail credits (1 credit allows you to send one message) at a cost of $10 per InMail message.

 

­Premium accounts, such as the Job Seeker account for $29.99/month, come with a set number of InMail credits per month that roll over to the next month if unused.

 

The Job Seeker account gets 3 credits per month, the Business Plus or Sales Navigator Professional account gets 15 credits per month, and the Recruiter Lite account gets 30 credits per month.

 

Here are some benefits of using InMail:

Delivery is instant. With InMail, you simply write your message or request and send it directly to the intended party. There’s no delay as a request gets passed from person to person and waits for approval or forwarding.

 

You owe no favors. Sometimes, you just want to reach somebody without asking your friends to vouch for you. InMail allows you to send a request to someone new without involving anyone else.

 

It’s sure to be delivered. With introductions, the party or parties involved in the middle could choose to deny your request and not pass along the message. With InMail, you know that the intended party will get a copy of your message in his or her email account and LinkedIn inbox.

 

Sending InMail

Message on LinkedIn

If you’re looking to connect with someone right away and you don’t have an immediate or secondary connection with someone, you can use the InMail feature to send a message directly to another LinkedIn member without anyone else getting involved.

 

InMail is basically a private email message that enables you to reach other ­members, but it protects those members’ privacy and email address information. If your message is accepted, you’ll receive a message in your LinkedIn inbox with the other party’s name and link to her profile, and you can communicate further.

 

In some cases, you see only the other person’s professional headline first, and then you see the person’s name after she accepts the InMail message. When you’re ready to send someone an InMail, follow these steps:

 

1. While logged in to LinkedIn, search for the person you’d like to meet.

You can use the Search box at the top of any LinkedIn page, or you can click the My Network icon and search your friend’s networks.

 

The person’s profile page appears. Suppose that I want to connect with Lynn Dralle, the Queen of Auctions, who can teach me how to sell on eBay. When I look at her profile, I see the Send InMail button, which means she is open to receiving InMail.

 

2. From the list of search results, click the name of the person you want to contact.

3. Click the Send InMail link. The New Message form appears.

4. Type a subject, and then type your message in the text box.

Keep your message focused on why you would like to talk with this person and what information you hope to exchange. (“Planning your approach to each person,” later in this chapter, has advice that applies to InMail messages as well.)

 

At the bottom of your message, you will see how many InMail credits you have; remember that you need at least one credit to send the message. Be sure to proofread your message before sending it. If you send a message with typos, it won’t help your case at all.

 

5. Click the Send button.

Your recipient receives the InMail in her LinkedIn inbox and can decide whether to accept it. (If she has configured LinkedIn to get immediate emails of her InMail messages, she will receive the InMail in her email account inbox as well.)

 

If your message is accepted, it’s up to the recipient to contact you in return. Be patient. While you’re waiting, I recommend a game of Connect Four or Internet Chess.

 

Managing Invitations

 

Invitation

As you grow your network, you need to keep track of the invitations you send and receive. This section describes a way to manage your invitations on the LinkedIn website.

 

Tracking sent invitations

To avoid sending a repeat invitation by mistake, or to review your sent invitations to see whether someone has responded, you need to track your sent invitations.

1. Click the My Network icon from the top navigation bar of any LinkedIn page. Click the Manage All link to the right of the Invitations header.

 

2. A screen appears with all pending invitations

3. Click Sent, below the Manage Invitations header.

To withdraw an invitation request, click the Withdraw link to the right of the ­person’s name. LinkedIn automatically deletes the sent invitation and it drops off your list of sent invitations.

 

When you withdraw the request, no message is sent to the other person. If you want, you can then send the person a new invitation request through either LinkedIn or, if you have the person’s contact information, your own email account.

 

Tracking received invitations

When growing your LinkedIn network, you should be responsive to others who want to add you to their LinkedIn connections lists. To review your received invitations, follow these steps:

1. Click the My Network icon from the top navigation bar.

2. Click the Manage All link to the right of the Invitations header.

 

A list of invitations you’ve received appears. You can click a person’s name or profile photo to see his or her profile. If you have mutual connections with the person requesting to connect with you, you can click the icon that looks like two conjoined rings below the person’s headline to see which connections you have in common.

 

3.  To accept a pending invitation, click the Accept link. To ignore the invitation, click the Ignore link.

 

If you want to reply to the person without immediately accepting the invitation (say, to get clarification if you don’t recognize the person), click the Message link below the person’s name to generate a LinkedIn message where you can ask for clarification or let the person know that you plan not to accept the invitation, for example.

After you click the Accept or Ignore link, the invitation disappears from your view. If another invitation requires action, it appears in the list.

 

4. Continue to act on each invitation in your list until there are no more pending invitations.

 

Planning your approach to each person

When you want to ask someone in your first-degree network to introduce you to a second-degree network member, plan your request before sending it. Preparing a good-quality and proper introduction goes a long way toward keeping your network helpful and enthusiastic and increases your chances of making a new and valuable connection.

 

You need to prepare two messages: one for your intended recipient and one for your connection. Each message has a specific objective. Start with the message to your connection, keeping the following tips in mind:

 

Be honest and upfront. 

Say exactly what you want to achieve so there are no surprises. If you tell your friend that you’re hoping her contact will be a new bowling buddy, but then ask the contact for funding for a new business plan, you’re in trouble.

 

Even if your eventual goal is something big, such as asking someone for a job, start with a reasonable goal, such as asking for information or advice. Let the other person know that you’d like to keep talking to see what possibilities might occur in the future.

 

Be polite and courteous. 

Remember, you’re asking your friend to vouch for you or back you up when your request goes to the intended party. So be polite when making your request and show your gratitude regardless of the outcome.

 

Be ready to give in order to get. 

One of the best ways to go far with your network is to offer a reciprocal favor, such as introducing your friend to one of your other contacts.

 

Be patient.

Although you might be eager and under a deadline, your friends probably operate on a different schedule. Some people are online all the time and others log in to LinkedIn infrequently.

 

And most people are disconnected at times, such as when they’re on vacation or behind on a project. Asking your friend every day whether she forwarded your request is a surefire way of getting that request bounced back. When writing your message to your intended recipient, keep these tips in mind:

 

Be honest and upfront.

Just like with your friend, when you have a specific goal or request, make it known in the message. If the recipient finds out that you have an ulterior motive, he will feel deceived, which is not the feeling to create when asking someone for help.

 

Be succinct.

 You’re asking someone for his time, resources, or advice, so don’t beat around the bush. Introduce yourself in your first sentence or two. Then explain why you’re contacting the recipient and how you hope he can help you.

 

Be original. 

If you stick to LinkedIn’s sample text, your message will have an air of “Hey, I want to talk to you, but I don’t want to spend a few seconds of effort to tell you what I’m after.”

 

When you customize your message, you have a greater chance of capturing the other person’s attention, especially if your intended recipient gets a lot of requests.

 

Be ready to give in order to get.

You’re asking for help, so again, be ready to give something, whether it’s gratitude, a reciprocal favor, or something more tangible.

 

Most people are eager to help, especially when they understand the situation, but having something to offer in exchange doesn’t hurt. Explain to your recipient how you might provide something useful in return.

 

Sending an introduction request message

send_linkedIn

When you’ve prepared your messages (one to your contact and one to the recipient) and you’re ready to send an introduction request message, follow these steps:

 

1. While logged in to LinkedIn, search for the person you’d like to meet. Use the Search box at the top of any LinkedIn page, or click the My Network icon and search your friend’s networks.

 

2. In the list of search results, click the name of the person you want to contact. The recipient’s profile page appears.

3. Scroll down the page to the Highlights section. The Highlights section features the mutual connections you have with this person, if any, as well as other facts that you have in common.

 

4. Click the Mutual Connections link.

5. To start a LinkedIn message with your first-degree connection, click the Message button.

A new window appears, with a new message window to your first-degree connection. If the window doesn’t open, click the New Message icon and type the name of your first-degree connection, and send her a message that starts the introduction process.

Mention the second-degree network member whom you’d like to meet, and what your first-degree connection should say to that person on your behalf.

 

6. Click the Send button.

Your newly sent message appears as the top entry in your inbox screen. Your first-degree connection will receive the message in her LinkedIn inbox. After that, it’s up to your friend to share that person’s profile with you so you can communicate directly with the second-degree network member.

 

To add this ­second-degree member to your network, one of you has to invite the other person to your network. You can always view your introduction request message in your list of LinkedIn messages.

 

Keep in mind some LinkedIn members are inactive or may not respond, so try not to take it personally. Move on to another potentially helpful contact, especially if you have more than one mutual connection.

 

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Managing Introduction Requests

Request_linkedIn

What if the roles become reversed and someone in your network is looking for your help to meet someone in your network? You can facilitate the introduction between your first-degree connections. Now that your reputation is on the line too, you should think about and respond to any introduction requests that come your way.

 

You have only two options for handling an introduction request:

Accept it by sending a message to both the person requesting the introduction and the party it’s intended for, so they can communicate directly with each other.

 

Politely decline it. I cover these two options in more detail in the following sections. However, you decide to handle the request, keep these tips in mind:

 

Act reply quickly.

The reason why LinkedIn works so well is that people are active with their networks and build on their profile by answering questions, meeting new people, or joining groups.

 

When you get a message requesting an introduction, act on it or respond to the person with the reason why you won’t act on it. Ignoring the message isn’t a productive use of the LinkedIn system and makes you look unprofessional.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. 

Sometimes you need the person to remind you exactly how the two of you are connected. Check the note from the person for a reminder that helps you place her, as well as the information that LinkedIn keeps on both of you.

 

If there’s no information, don’t be afraid to shoot back a message and ask for clarification or a gentle reminder.

 

Read your friend’s request before forwarding. 

Chances are good that the person to whom you forward this request might come back to you and ask, “Hey, why did I get this?” or “What do you really think about this person?”

 

If you don’t know the details of your friend’s request, the intended party might think you’re a rubber-stamper who sends requests without screening them, which lowers this person’s impression of you.

 

Knowing what your friend is requesting can help you decide how to promote and encourage the connection, perhaps by giving you an idea of how best to approach the intended party.

 

Accepting requests and forwarding the introduction

When you’re ready to accept your friend’s request and make the introduction, follow­ these steps:

 

1. Click the Messages button in the top navigation bar.

2. In your inbox, display the message in which your friend is asking for the introduction.

3. Search for the person he wants to meet.

4. Display the person’s profile, click the More button, and then select Share Profile from the list to start the introduction.

 

5.  In the subject line of the message you just created, type the name of the person requesting the introduction and the name of the person you’re introducing.

6. Click inside the message box to add text so the person receiving the introduction request understands why you’re sending the message.

7. Click the Send button to send the request.

 

Gracefully declining requests

Decline_request

As discussed in previous sections, one of the most common types of messages on LinkedIn is when someone in your network requests that you ask someone else you know for a favor.

 

It’s not uncommon to feel uncomfortable contacting the second person to get that favor for the first person. Perhaps you don’t know It’s not you, it’s me. 

The most common way to decline is to simply inform the initial contact that you’re not that deeply connected with the intended recipient, and you don’t feel comfortable passing on a request to someone who isn’t a strong contact.

 

The recipient doesn’t respond well to this approach.

You can reply that you know what the intended recipient will say, from past requests or experiences. Because you feel that the intended recipient wouldn’t be interested, you would rather not waste anyone’s time in sending the request.

 

I just don’t feel comfortable passing along the request.

Be honest and simply state that you don’t feel right passing on the request you’ve received.

 

After all, if the original contract doesn’t understand your hesitation, he’ll probably keep asking, and LinkedIn will want you to follow up on any unresolved­ introduction. Honesty is usually the best policy.

 

I think your request needs work.

Because you’re vouching for this person, you don’t want to pass along a shoddy or questionable request that could reflect badly on you. In this case, simply respond that you think the request needs to be reworded or clarified, and offer concrete suggestions on what should be said as well as what requests you feel comfortable forwarding.

 

When you’re ready to decline the request, simply click Reply on the LinkedIn ­message and let the person requesting the favor know your reasons for not acting on his request. The person asking for the favor will see your response in his LinkedIn inbox.

 

How to network on LinkedIn

To expand your network, you need to know how to send invitations as well as how to attract LinkedIn members and contacts who haven’t yet taken the plunge into LinkedIn membership.

 

I cover all that here, too. Etiquette of accepting or declining invitations that you receive, and shows you how to remove connections that you no longer want to keep in your network. An invitation is when you invite a colleague or a friend to join LinkedIn and stay connected to you as part of your network.

 

An introduction is when you ask a first-degree connection to introduce you to one of his or her connections so you can get to know that person better. In this blog, we have to explain How to Network on Linkedin.

 

Building a Meaningful Network

When you build a house, you start with a set of blueprints. When you start an organization, you usually have some sort of mission statement or guiding principles. Likewise, when you begin to build your LinkedIn network, you should keep in mind some of the keys to having and growing a professional network.

 

These guiding principles help you decide whom to invite to your network, whom to search for and introduce yourself to, and how much time to spend on LinkedIn.

 

LinkedIn is different from the Facebook and Twitter sites because it focuses on business networking in a professional manner rather than encouraging users to post pictures of their latest beach party or tweet their latest status update.

 

The best use of LinkedIn involves maintaining a professional network of connections, not sending someone an event invitation or a game request. That said, you’ll find variety in the types of networks that people maintain on LinkedIn. Much of that has to do with each person’s definition of a meaningful network:

 

Quality versus quantity:

 some people use LinkedIn with the goal of gaining the highest number of connections possible, thereby emphasizing quantity over quality. Those people are typically referred to as LinkedIn open networkers (LIONs).

 

At the other end of the spectrum are people who use LinkedIn only to keep together their closest, most tightly knit connections without striving to enlarge their network. Most people fall somewhere in between these two aims.

 

The question of whether you’re after quality or quantity is something to keep in mind every time you think of inviting someone to join your network. LinkedIn strongly recommends connecting only with people you know, so its advice is to stick to quality connections. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you figure out your purpose:

 

  • Do you want to manage a network of only people you personally know?
  • Do you want to manage a network of people you know or who might help you find new opportunities in a specific industry?

 

  • Do you want to promote your business or expand your professional opportunities?
  • Do you want to maximize your chances of being able to reach someone with a new opportunity or job offer, regardless of personal interaction?

 

Depth versus breadth:

Some people want to focus on building a network of only the most relevant or new connections — people from their current job or industry who could play a role in their professional development in that industry.

 

Other people like to include a diversity of connections that include anyone they have ever professionally interacted with, whether through work, education, or any kind of group or association, in hopes that anyone who knows them at all can potentially lead to future opportunities.

 

For these LinkedIn users, it doesn’t matter that most of the people in their network don’t know 99 percent of their other connections. Most people fall somewhere in between these two poles but lean toward including more people in their network.

 

Here are some questions to keep in mind regarding whether you want to focus on depth or breadth in your network:

  • Do you want to build or maintain a specific in-depth network of thought leaders regarding one topic, job, or industry?
  • Do you want to build a broad network of connections that can help you with different aspects of your career or professional life?

 

  • Do you want to add only people who may offer an immediate benefit to some aspect of your professional life?
  • Do you want to add a professional contact now and figure out later how that person might fit with your long-term goals?

 

Strong versus weak link:

 I’m not referring to the game show The Weakest Link, but rather to the strength of your connection with someone. Beyond the issue of quality versus quantity, you’ll want to keep differing levels of quality in mind. Some people invite someone after meeting him once at a cocktail party, hoping to strengthen the link as time goes on.

 

Others work to create strong links first and then invite those people to connect on LinkedIn afterward.

 

This issue comes down to how much you want LinkedIn itself to play a role in your business network’s development. Do you see your LinkedIn network as a work in progress or as a virtual room in which to gather only your closest allies? Here are some questions to keep in mind:

 

  • What level of interaction needs to have occurred for you to feel comfortable asking someone to connect with you on LinkedIn? A face-to-face meeting? Phone conversations only? A stream of emails?

 

  • What length of time do you need to know someone before you feel that you can connect with that person? Or, does time matter less if you have had a high-quality interaction just once?

 

  • Does membership in a specific group or association count as a good enough reference for you to add someone to your network? (For example, say you met someone briefly only once, but she is a school alum: Does that tie serve as a sufficient reference?)

 

Specific versus general goals: 

Some people like to maintain a strong network of people mainly to talk about work and job-related issues. Other people like to discuss all matters relating to their network, whether it’s professional, personal, or social. Most people fall somewhere in between, and herein lies what I mean by the “purpose” of your network.

 

Do you want to simply catalog your entire network, regardless of industry, because LinkedIn will act as your complete contact management system and because you can use LinkedIn to reach different parts of your network at varying times?

 

Or do you want to focus your LinkedIn network on a specific goal, using your profile to attract and retain the right kind of contact that furthers that goal? Here are some more questions to ask yourself:

 

  • Do you have any requirements in mind for someone before you add him to your network? That is, are you looking to invite only people with certain qualities or experience?

 

  • Does the way you know or met someone influence your decision to connect to that person on LinkedIn?
  • What information do you need to know about someone before you want to add him to your network?

 

After you establish why you want to link to other people, you can start looking for and reaching out to those people. In the next section, I point you to a number of linking strategies that can help you reach your goals for your network.

 

When you start on LinkedIn, completing your profile helps you get your first round of connections, and you’re prompted to enter whatever names you can remember to offer an invitation for them to connect with you. Now you’re ready to generate your next round of connections, and to get into the habit of making this a continual process as you use the site.

 

Importing Contacts into LinkedIn

One of the most popular (and necessary) activities people use the Internet for is email. Your email account contains a record of the email addresses of everyone you regularly communicate with via email.

 

And from your established base of communications, LinkedIn offers a way for you to ramp up your network by importing a list of contacts from your email program.

 

Importing your email contacts into LinkedIn eliminates the drudgery of going through your address book and copying addresses into LinkedIn. This section shows you how to import your email contacts into LinkedIn to update your connections.

 

Importing a contacts list from your email system

This section shows you how to use the LinkedIn function to import your email contacts into LinkedIn. To do so, follow these steps:

 

1. Click the My Network icon on the top navigation bar to display your network page.

 

2.  Click the More options link below the Your Contact Import Is Ready section on the left side of the screen.

The Sync Contacts screen appears. Your email address on file is already entered in the email address text box in the middle of the screen.

 

Below your email address is a row of buttons representing Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, and AOL, an email message icon (for inputting a list of email addresses manually), and an upload icon (for uploading a file of email addresses).

 

3. Click Continue to use the pre-filled address, replace the email address by typing a new email address and then click Continue, or click one of the buttons to select an email system from which to import your contacts.

 

4. Follow the prompts to connect your email account with LinkedIn.

 

5. Click the Allow button.

LinkedIn spends some time accessing the account and checking to see whether any of your contacts are already on LinkedIn., with a list of people from your email account who have LinkedIn accounts but are not currently connected to you.

 

6. Choose whom you want to invite to be your LinkedIn connections:

Add Connections: Add everyone as a connection. Each will receive an automated invitation to connect with you. Because you can’t tailor the messages to these people, this option isn’t recommended. You must go to each person’s profile page, and click Connect to send a customized invitation.

 

Deselect All: Deselect every checkbox. You can then go through the list and selectively select the connections you want to add today. You can’t add customized invitation text to these connection requests. Connect from each person’s profile page to customize the invitation text.

 

Skip: Skip this screen and move on with the process. A new screen appears, with the names of people imported from your email account who don’t have a LinkedIn account.

 

7. Decide who you want to invite to LinkedIn and add as a first-degree connection.

You see slightly different buttons than in Step 6. Click Add to Network to add everyone, click Deselect All and manually choose people you want to invite to LinkedIn and add as a connection, or click the Skip button to move to the next step. 

 

If you decide to skip Step 6 or 7, you’ll be able to review LinkedIn’s imported list of people at a later date by clicking the email system button, as you did in Step 3.

 

8. To sync additional email accounts with LinkedIn, repeat Steps 2 to 7.

In this way, you can look for new contacts whom you can invite to your network. LinkedIn should be to interface with any email account that can be accessed over the Internet from your computer. Some work email systems may be inaccessible depending on security levels set by your employer.

 

Checking for members

When you fill out your LinkedIn profile, you create an opportunity to check for colleagues and classmates as well as import potential contacts and invite them to connect with you and stay in touch using LinkedIn.

 

However, that search ­happens only after you define your profile (and when you update or add to your profile). After that, it’s up to you to routinely check the LinkedIn network to look for new members on the site who might want to connect with you or with whom you might want to connect.

 

Fortunately, LinkedIn provides a few tools that help you quickly scan the system to see whether a recently joined member is a past colleague or a classmate. In addition, it never hurts to use your friends to check for new members, as I discuss in a little bit.

 

Finding classmates

No matter how much time goes by since I graduated from college, I still remember my school years well. I met a lot of cool and interesting people, people I wanted to stay in contact with because of common goals, interests, or experiences. As time progressed and people moved on to new lives after graduation, it was all too easy to lose touch and not be able to reconnect.

 

Through LinkedIn, though, you can reconnect with former classmates and maintain that tie through your network, no matter where anyone moves on to. For you to find these people to begin with, of course, your former classmates have to properly list their dates of education.

 

And, just as with the search for former colleagues, it’s important to do an occasional search to see which classmates joined LinkedIn.

 

To search for classmates — and add them to your network, if you want — follow these steps:

1. While logged in to your LinkedIn account, go to www.linkedin.com/alumni.

 

If you’ve prefilled in at least one educational institution, the Alumni window for your most recent Education entry appears,  If the screen is blank, you haven’t yet added any education entries to your profile. 

 

2. Filter the results for a better list.

Click any of the classifications, such as Where They Live or Where They Work, to add filters and get a more precise list. You can also change the years of attendance in the boxes provided to see a different set of candidates, and to search by a specific graduation date.

 

3. Look over the list of potential classmates and connect with anyone you recognize.

You can always click the name of the classmate to see his or her profile first, or just click the Connect link below the name to send an invitation to connect. If you have any shared connections, you can hover your cursor over the connection symbol and number next to the person’s picture to see what connections you have in common.

 

Before you invite people, click their name to read their profiles and see what they’ve been doing. Why ask them about their recent accomplishments or activities when you can read it for yourself? By doing your homework first, your invitation will sound more natural and be more likely to be accepted.

 

4. Repeat the process for other schools by clicking the Change University button, and selecting another school from your educational history.

When you select a new school, you see the same screen but for the newly selected school. You can filter those results and invite whomever you recognize.

 

Using the People You May Know feature

One of the most common ways for you to increase your network is by using LinkedIn’s suggestion system that it calls People You May Know. Given all the data that LinkedIn imports and the global network it maintains.

 

It can use people’s profile data, email imports, common experience, education, and LinkedIn activity or other commonalities to predict who may be in the same network with you.

 

You can access the People You May Know feature in several places. Occasionally, a section of your home page news feed as well as the middle section of your My Network page, When you click Connect for someone, that spot is updated with a new potential connection for you to consider.

 

As you scroll down, the page is updated with rows of people to whom you can send a connection request. Here are some things to keep in mind as you review this section:

 

Study the connections you have in common. 

A little symbol and a number at the bottom left corner of someone’s picture indicates that you and this person have shared first-degree connections. You can hover your mouse over that number to see a pop-up window of those connections.

 

LinkedIn will automatically sort people with more shared connections to the top of the page, assuming that if you have a lot of shared connections, perhaps that person belongs in your network.

 

Some people have an Invite button.

 If you see an email address and the Invite button instead of the Connect button, the person is a contact that you imported to your LinkedIn account who isn’t currently on LinkedIn. If you click the Invite button, LinkedIn will send that person an invitation to join LinkedIn, similar to the invitation you sent as 

 

Don’t spend a lot of time reviewing your connections. 

Instead, visit this page every once in a while to see whom you may want to connect with.

 

Visit a person’s profile first before clicking Connect.

 I can’t stress this enough. When you click Connect from the People You May Know page, LinkedIn sends that person a generic invitation. If you click the person’s name instead and then click Connect, a screen appears, where you can write a customized message.

 

Browsing your connections’ networks

Although it’s helpful for LinkedIn to help you search the network, sometimes nothing gives as good results as a good old-fashioned investigation.

 

From time to time, I like to browse the network of a first-degree connection to see whether he or she has a contact who should be a part of my network. I don’t recommend spending a lot of your time this way, but doing spot checks by choosing a few friends at random can yield nice results.

 

Why is this type of research effective? Lots of reasons, including these:

 

You travel in the same circles.

If someone is a part of your network, you know that person from a past experience, whether you worked together, learned together, spoke at a conference together, or lived next door to each other.

 

Whatever the experience, you and this contact spent time with other people, so chances are you have shared connections — or, better yet, you’ll find people in that person’s network whom you want to be a part of your network.

 

You might find someone newly connected. 

Say that you’ve already searched your undergraduate alumni contacts and added as many people as you could find. As time passes, someone new may connect to one of your friends.

 

One effective way to keep updated about the people that your connections have recently added is to review your notifications. LinkedIn may create a section of the news feed to show you this information.

 

You might recognize someone whose name you didn’t fully remember.

Many of us have a contact whom we feel we know well, have fun talking to, and consider more than just an acquaintance, but we can’t remember that person’s last name.

 

Then, when you search a common contact’s network and see the temporarily forgotten name and job title, you suddenly remember. Now you can invite that person to join your network. Another common experience is seeing the name and job title of a contact whose last name changed after marriage.

 

You might see someone you’ve wanted to get to know better. Have you ever watched a friend talking to someone whom you wanted to add to your network? Maybe your friend already introduced you, so the other person knows your name, but you consider this person a casual acquaintance at best.

 

When you see that person’s name listed in your friend’s network, you can take the opportunity to deepen that connection. Having a friend in common who can recommend you can help smooth the way.

 

Looking through your friend’s contacts list can be a cumbersome process if he or she has hundreds of contacts, so allow some time if you choose this technique.

 

To browse the network of one of your connections, follow these steps:

1.  Click the My Network icon in the top navigation bar to bring up your network page.

2. Under the Your Connections header, click the See All link.

3. Click the name of a first-degree connection.

Alternatively, search for the name by using the search box on the home page.

 

Then, select the name in the search results list. When perusing the person’s profile, look for a See All X Connections link in the top-right corner, above the name and the Contact and Personal Info section.

 

If you don’t see this link, you can’t proceed with this process because the person has chosen to make his or her connection list private. If that’s the case, you need to select a different first-degree connection.

 

4. Click the Connections link of the first-degree connection.

5. Look through the list and find someone to whom you’d like to send an invitation. Click the person’s name to display his or her profile.

6. Click the blue Connect button.

 

7. To customize the invitation, click in the text box and write a message (up to 300 characters) to describe your connection to this person.

Remind the person you want to connect with exactly how you know him or her. Perhaps you simply have to indicate that you are a colleague, classmate, business partner, or friend, or have another association with this person.

 

8. Click the blue Send Invitation button.

Presto! You’re finished.

 

Sending Connection Requests

You can check out previous sections of this chapter to find out how to search the entire user network and find people you want to invite to join your network. In this section, I focus on sending out the invitation, including how to go about inviting people who haven’t yet joined LinkedIn.

 

Sending requests to existing members

When you’re on a LinkedIn page and spot the name of a member who you want to invite to your network, follow these steps to send that person a connection request:

 

1. Click the person’s name to go to his or her profile page.

2. Click the blue Connect button to start the connection request.

3. If requested, provide the person’s email address to help prove that you know the person

4. (Optional but recommended) Click the Add a Note button and enter your invitation text in the Add a Note field.

 

I highly recommend that you compose a custom invitation rather than use the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” text. In the example, I remind the person how we recently met, acknowledge one of his achievements, and ask him to connect.

 

5. Click the blue Send Invitation button.

When the other party accepts your connection request, you’re notified by email.

 

Understanding why you shouldn’t use canned invitations

 

If you’re having a rough or busy day, you might be tempted to send the canned invitation that LinkedIn displays when you go to the invitation request page. We all have things to do and goals to accomplish, so stopping to write a note for each invitation can grow tedious.

 

However, it’s important to replace that text with something that speaks to the recipient, for the following reasons:

 

The other person might not remember you. Quite simply, your recipient can take one look at your name, see no additional information in the note that accompanied it, and think, “Who is this person?”

 

A few might click your name to read your profile and try to figure it out, but most people are busy and won’t take the time to investigate. They are likely to ignore your request. Not good.

 

The other person could report you as someone he doesn’t know. Having someone ignore your request isn’t the worst possibility, though. Nope, the worst is being declined as unknown. Recipients of your invitation see an I Don’t Know This Person button.

 

If several people click this button from an invitation you sent, LinkedIn will eventually consider you a spammer and will suspend you — and possibly even remove your profile and account from the site!

 

You offer no motivation for a mutually beneficial relationship.

 When people get an invitation request, they understand pretty clearly that you want something from them, whether it’s access to them or to their network. If you’ve sent a canned invitation, they can’t answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

 

A canned invitation gives no motivation for or potential benefit of being connected to you. A custom note explaining that you’d like to swap resources or introduce that person to others is usually enough to encourage an acceptance.

 

A canned invitation implies that you don’t care. 

Some people will look at your canned invitation request and think, “This person doesn’t have 30 to 60 seconds to write a quick note introducing herself? She must not think much of me.”

 

Worse, they may think, “This person just wants to increase her number of contacts to look more popular or to exploit my network.” Either impression will quickly kill your chances of getting more connections.

 

Sending requests to nonmembers

Only members of LinkedIn can be part of anyone’s network. Therefore, if you want to send a connection request to someone who hasn’t yet joined LinkedIn, you must invite that person to create a LinkedIn account first.

 

To do so, you can either send your invitee an email directly, asking him or her to join, or you can use a LinkedIn function that generates the email invitation that includes a link to join LinkedIn.

 

Either way, you need to have the nonmember’s email address, and you’ll probably have to provide your invitee with some incentive by offering reasons to take advantage of LinkedIn and create an account.

 

When you’re ready to send your request using LinkedIn, follow these steps:

1. Click the My Network icon in the top navigation bar, and then click the More Options link on the My Network page that appears.

The More Options link is below the Your Contact Import Is Ready section. The Add Connections window appears.

 

2. Click the Email Message button along the bottom middle of the page.

 

3. In the box provided, fill in the email addresses of the people you want to invite to LinkedIn.

 

4. To personalize the invitation request to nonmembers a bit, select from a list of pre-programmed phrases or reasons to join LinkedIn, which will be included in the invitation.

 

Simply select the radio button next to the phrase you want to be included. As an extra step, you may want to contact those people via email or phone first to let them know that this request is coming and encourage them to consider joining LinkedIn.

 

5. Click the blue Continue button. A confirmation message pops up.

 

6. To return to the Sync Contacts page, click the Go Back link in the top left.

You can repeat the process at any time to invite additional people to join LinkedIn and be added to your network.

 

Communicating the value of joining LinkedIn

So you want to add some people to your network, but they haven’t yet signed on to LinkedIn. If you want them to accept your request by setting up their account, you might need to tout the value of LinkedIn.

 

After all, utilizing your existing and growing network is one of the most powerful sales tools, which is why all types of businesses — from e-commerce stores and retail businesses to service directories and social networking websites — use LinkedIn. Offering to help them build their profile or use LinkedIn effectively wouldn’t hurt either.

 

As of this writing, LinkedIn does not allow you to personalize your invitation to nonmembers (beyond choosing a canned phrase as detailed in the previous ­section), so you’ll need to make this pitch either via email or directly with the person you are recruiting.

 

So, how do you make your pitch? If you send a thesis on the merits of LinkedIn, it’ll most likely be ignored. Sending a simple “C’mon! You know you wanna . . .” request may or may not work. (You know your friends better than I.)

 

LinkedIn members always stay in touch with their connections.

 If people you know move, change their email addresses, or change jobs, you still have a live link to them via LinkedIn. You’ll always be able to see their new email addresses if you’re connected (assuming that they provide it, of course).

 

LinkedIn members can tap into their friends’ networks for jobs or opportunities, now or later.

Although someone might not need a job now, he or she may eventually need help, so why not access thousands or even millions of potential leads?

 

LinkedIn has hundreds of millions of members in all sorts of industries, and people have obtained consulting leads, contract jobs, new careers, and even startup venture capital or funding for a new film. After all, it’s all about “who you know.”

 

LinkedIn can help you build your own brand.

LinkedIn members get a free profile page to build their online presence and can link to up to three of their own websites, such as a blog, personal website, social media page, or e-commerce store. The search engines love LinkedIn pages, which have high page rankings — and this can only boost your online identity.

 

LinkedIn can help you do all sorts of research.

 You might need to know more about a company before an interview, or you’re looking for a certain person to help your business, or you’re curious what people’s opinions would be regarding an idea you have.

 

LinkedIn is a great resource in all these situations. You can use LinkedIn to get free advice and information, all from the comfort of your own computer.

 

Employers are using LinkedIn every day. 

Many employers now use LinkedIn to do due diligence on a job seeker by reviewing his or her LinkedIn profile before an interview. If you’re not on LinkedIn, an employer may see this as a red flag and it could affect your chances of getting the job.

 

A basic LinkedIn account is free, and joining LinkedIn is easy. 

People have a lot of misconceptions about monthly fees or spending a lot of time updating their LinkedIn profiles. Simply remind people that joining is free and that after they set up their profiles, LinkedIn is designed to take up little of their time keeping an active profile and benefitting from having an account.

 

Removing people from your network

The day might come when you feel you need to remove someone from your network. Perhaps you added the person in haste, or he repeatedly asks you for favors or introduction requests or sends messages that you don’t want to respond to.

 

Not to worry — you’re not doomed to suffer forever; simply remove the connection. When you do so, that person can no longer view your network or send you messages, unless he pays to send you an InMail message.

 

To remove a connection from your network, just follow these steps:

 

1. While logged in to your LinkedIn account, click the My Network icon, on the top navigation bar.

2. Under the Your Connections header, click See All.

3. Scroll through the list to find the connection to remove.

 

4. To the far right of the person’s name, click the three dots next to the Message button, and then select Remove Connection from the drop-down list that appears. A pop-up box appears, warning you of what abilities you’ll lose with this removal and be asking you to confirm you want to remove the connection. 

 

5. To remove the person from your network, click the Remove button

 

Accepting Invitations

How well do you know this person?

 With any luck, the inviter has included a custom message clueing you into who he or she is, in case you don’t remember. You can, of course, click the name to read that person’s profile, which usually helps trigger your memory.

 

If you don’t know or remember this person, you probably don’t want to add him to your network just yet. If you do know the person, you need to consider whether he or she is worth adding to your network.

 

Does this person fit with the goals of your network? 

As I mentioned early in this chapter, it’s easier to put together a network when you’ve established a sense of the purpose you want it to serve. When you’re looking at this invitation, simply ask yourself, “Does accepting this invitation help further my goals?”

 

Is this someone with whom you want to communicate and include in your network? 

If you don’t like someone or don’t want to do business with him or her, you should certainly not feel obligated to accept the invitation. Keep in mind that these people will have access to your network and can hit you up with introduction messages and recommendation requests.

 

If you’re thinking of declining an invitation, you can simply ignore the invitation message or click the X button on the screen to ignore the invitation. Optionally, you can respond to the person who sent you the invitation.

 

Some people prefer to respond to be professional or polite, for example. If you decide to send a response message, instead of just ignoring the invite, here are some tips to help you do so gracefully:

 

Respond quickly.

 If you wait to respond to the invitation and then decide to go ahead and decline the invite, the other person might be even more offended and confused. Respond quickly so that this issue isn’t hanging over anyone’s head.

 

If necessary, ask for more information. 

If you feel uncomfortable because you don’t know the person well but want to consider the invitation before you decline, respond with a request for more information, such as, “I appreciate your interest, but I am having trouble placing our previous meetings.

 

What is your specific interest in connecting with me on LinkedIn? Please let me know how we know each other and what your goals are for LinkedIn. Thanks again.”

 

Respond politely but with a firm no. 

You can simply write something along the lines of, “Thank you for your interest; I appreciate your eagerness. Unfortunately, because I’m not familiar with you, I’m not interested in connecting with you on LinkedIn just yet.”

 

Then, if you want, you can spell out the terms in which you might be interested in connecting, such as if the opportunity ever arises to get to know the person better or if he or she is referred to you by a friend.

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