5 Steps every professional should take when reaching out on LinkedIn

You might be aware of how useful LinkedIn is for reaching out to professional contacts, but you don’t want to screw up on your first contact. Make sure you take these five steps before you reach out to request a new connection or when contacting a current connection to maximize your chance for success.

1. Use your shared contacts, or shared groups as a point of reference

When making contact for the first time via LinkedIn and request somebody adds you as a contact it is always best to reach out via a shared contact, or to request they connect with you because you are in a shared group. Explaining both your connection to them, and why you think it would be beneficial to them to connect with you reduces the odds of them ignoring your request.

2. Make sure your profile is up to date and factually correct

One of the first things a potential contact will do after they receive a connection request from you is check out your LinkedIn profile. If your profile is half empty and missing crucial information then they are more likely to ignore your request. Don’t fill up your profile with false information though just to get their attention, you are almost sure to be caught out in the future, and it could seriously damage your professional reputation.

3. Keep it short and sweet

When reaching out for the first time, both to request a connection and to people you are already connected to, keep your message brief and to the point. Explain who you are, why you are reaching out to them and any additional information you might need to give them. Don’t forget to thank them for their time in reading your request, a little extra politeness goes a long way.

4. Personalize your message

Don’t just use a template message, even if you have many contacts to reach out to. Your time isn’t more valuable that the person you are reaching out to, and those few extra seconds can mean the difference between a confirmed request and an ignored one. A few personalized details also lets your potential contact know that you pay attention to detail, and that they are important to you.

5. Use a professional email signature

Ending your request to connect or a first contact message on LinkedIn with a personalized signature demonstrates that you are a professional, and you know how to brand yourself. It also gives the person that you are reaching out to more information about you, so that they can make an informed decision if you are a relevant contact for them. By including links to your email or other social networks that you use you can also give them options to reply to you via their preferred method of communication.

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You only get the chance to make a first contact once. Make sure you are doing everything you can to do it right.