how to use linkedin

Crafting the Invitation to Connect: Five Tips for Connecting Success

By Communications

A few years ago, I received the best invitation to connect on LinkedIn that I have ever received, before or since.

It was so good, in fact, that I kept it, generalized it down and have used it during speaking engagements and presentations as an example of how to invite someone to connect.

Now, in the case of a mass upload of contacts when you’re just getting started, or certain contacts with whom you’re connected a dozen different ways, sometimes the standard, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” is perfectly OK. But often, it’s not.

If you are connecting to someone new to your network:

  1. Provide context; remind them how you know one another, who your mutual connections are and where you met.
  2. Tell them why you’re interested in connecting.
  3. Let them know what it is you offer, or how your network might be valuable to them.
  4. If the connection has a new position or has a business recently featured in the news, make reference to that.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the contact by looking for updates, common contacts, a blog, a Google profile, on Twitter or other content that will give you some context for the person you’re reaching out to; it may be helpful to know what’s happening with them on the day you conduct your outreach.

Here’s the “sample” invitation to connect that I’ve referred to so often. Take a look, then build your own.

As you may know, I resigned my position as [TITLE & COMPANY]. It was a rich experience and I value the privilege of access to a very high level of thought leadership during my years there.

Recently, I have begun to work with the [COMPANY] to [DETAILS OF JOB AND INDUSTRY] Using “best practice” as a baseline, we are [INFORMATION ABOUT THE COMPANY’S GOALS AND PURSUITS].

As I value our relationship and appreciate the depth of experience you bring to your profession, please join my network so we can stay in touch on this and more.

Warm regards,

Isn’t that just lovely?

I often refer to this message when I want to set just the right tone when reaching out to a new connection. Feel free to adapt for your own needs, and of course, feel free to connect with me, as well.


Charlottesville Workshop: LinkedIn for the Job Seeker

By Communications

After being approached by no less than four disgruntled or about-to-be-laid off people in the last 48 hours, I’m launching a series of workshops to help. I think the biggest charge I get out of doing what I do is when it helps someone land a job or a new and better opportunity. I love connecting people to one another and to the next great moment in their lives. I’m going to start with a workshop at OpenSpace on Thursday, March 31 from 9-11am – LinkedIn for Job Seekers.

This workshop is designed for active job seekers and those interested in improving their professional online presence.  This hands-on session will include:

  • Developing a searchable professional headline;
  • Optimizing your professional profile; and
  • Strategically increasing your social network.

Participants will be led through active job searches via social networks. Laptops are recommended but not required.


OR . . . pass along to a job seeking friend.


LinkedIn: When to Ignore a Request to Connect

By Communications

My friend John posed this question via Twitter, “Say you don’t know someone and they send you a LinkedIn invite. I usually summarily reject. Are there cases where I shouldn’t?”

It’s a good question, and I know that people have differing opinions on this one. There are two schools of thought, as in most things, one is “white hat” the other a more “black hat” or not-so-ethical approach. I am steadfastly white hat; that’s what you get from someone with a background in professional communications, public relations and reputation management.

That being said, I believe in preserving the sanctity of what LinkedIn has set out to do; create business networks of people who actually know one another. I will extend this to fairly loose connections and relationships — I don’t have to know you in person or have worked directly with you to connect with you on LinkedIn. I do, however, need to have context that indicates our commonality — where we met, a common group or community to which we belong. I speak to large audiences frequently and sometimes am invited to connect to someone who I met during that speaking engagement. I often accept these, if I’m given that context and made a personal connection with that person at that event.

This leads to how we send those invitations to connect with others. Several years ago I received an invitation to connect that was so well-written, I have cleaned it up, generalized it, and used it as a best practice example ever since. A good invitation to connect looks something like this:

As you may know, I resigned my position as [TITLE & COMPANY]. It was a rich experience and I value the privilege of access to a very high level of thought leadership during my years there.


As I value our relationship and appreciate the depth of experience you bring to your profession, please join my network so we can stay in touch on this and more.

Warm regards,

It’s helpful, when you reach out to someone to connect, to give them context — the when and where of your meeting or interaction. Some of us meet and work with many people and our memories are not as clear as we’d like. I may have simply forgotten your name, and if your note says only “I’d like to add you to my network on LinkedIn” that doesn’t do anything to differentiate you from the guy who is just trying to build his numbers.

That brings me back to the concept of the black hat social networker — occasionally you will get invitations from people who are so far outside your network you can’t even figure out why the invitation has arrived. There are people simply playing a numbers game; don’t be tempted to join this tribe or contribute to it by accepting. It devalues the network and the strength of the relationships in it.

What do you think? When do you ignore a request to connect on LinkedIn?

Social Media Assignment #4: Edit Company Website

By Communications

A surprising number of my contacts have the following default setting in their LinkedIn profile:

It’s an easy fix, and one that’s often overlooked.

Today’s Social Media Assignment

Customize that “Company Website” default thusly: Edit the default Website settings on your LinkedIn profile. Login to your account and select Edit Profile.

When you’re in Edit Profile mode you will see lots of click-able blue links that say “Edit.”

Move to the section of your profile that lists Websites.

Click on the blue Edit next to one of your listed Websites (or if you’ve only listed one, that one — it doesn’t matter, they’ll all show up on the edit page.)

You have lots of options when you get to this stage, so you may have to think it through a bit.

You probably chose “Company Website” or “Blog” in the past. What you want to do, to open up an additional field to the right of this drop-down menu, is choose “Other.”

Choose Other! Really — it’s OK. When you choose “Other” a field opens, as depicted in the image at the left, that asks for your Website title. It is a really great opportunity to take advantage of smart search engine optimization to add the name of your company or a description of what you do to this field, then the URL in the field to the right of that.

As you can see in the capture of my profile below, my website listings are much more descriptive than “Company Website.”

I’m thrilled to hear from all of you who are following the social media assignments — keep up the good work!

Social Media Assignment #3: I’m Just Not that Into Your Title

By Communications

See this?

It’s what LinkedIn calls my “Professional Headline.”

A professional headline is not your title.

Let me repeat: A professional headline should not be your title.

If, in this space, you’ve proudly put President, Vice President, Manager, Associate or what-have-you, then you’re missing an opportunity. In this space, rather than inserting the general, commonplace label your company has given you, put in key words that describe what it is you do. This helps others in your field, or those looking for someone just like you to find you.

Let’s face it, there are an awful lot of Vice Presidents out there, aren’t there, but there’s only one of you, right?

Today’s Social Media Assignment

My professional headline includes: “Social media strategy consultant, public relations professional, media trainer, public speaker, social media educator,” — list some phrases that describe what you do. If you need to, seek input from others at work. If you’re looking for a job or a new opportunity, think about including words that would help you be found in a search for someone fitting that description. Above all, take the time today to edit this part of your social profile and stop being lumped in with all the other people in the world who share your title, but nothing else.

Thank you to John Heaney who included me in the astute post, Avoiding the Top 5 LinkedIn Mistakes.

Connect with me on LinkedIn.