social media how toVery few people ignore you in real life, face-to-face networking situations. So why do they do it to you online? The simple answer is because they probably don’t even realize that they are!

Be honest. Do you follow up on every LinkedIn connection request you get? No, probably not. I’ll bet you click “accept” and that’s as far as you go.

When someone requests to connect with you and you simply click “accept” and make no effort to carry on the conversation, you’re both simply saying hello to each other and it stops dead there. The only thing you gain by doing this is a string of connections that don’t have any real value. You become a connection collector.

So how can you use social etiquette to really make your LinkedIn connections valuable and stand out from the crowd at the same time?

Follow the 4 steps below and watch your reputation grow.

View LinkedIn as your own boardroom of connections versus your coffee shop connections on Twitter or Facebook. They tend to be managers, directors, business owners, CEOs and the like.

#1: Send Personalized Connection Requests

When you first send a possible contact an invitation, do it from his or her own profile page by clicking the Add to Your Network link.

We’ll use Paul as an example. By adding Paul this way, rather than simply going to the Add Connections tab, you can send a personalized message such as “Thanks for the coffee yesterday! It was great to catch up.”

This gives you the opportunity to remind Paul where you know him from. This is particularly useful if you’re getting back in touch after a long period of time, say from an old job or your school days.

If you simply send a connection request from the Add Connections box, there’s no facility to personalize your message.

This might be a quick and easy way to add a handful of new connections, but spend the time and do it right by adding your personal touch to each one by following the steps above.

#2: Reply When Accepting a Connection Request

All too often, I receive the standard email from LinkedIn that says a connection request has been accepted, but I rarely then get a short message from the new connection saying “Hi.”

So what should happen? Well, the same thing that happens in real life!

When Paul has accepted my connection request, he could then send a short message back. I like to take a look at my new connection’s profile if I’m not too familiar with him, and find something I can comment on. That may be something like he comes from my home town, or works for a company I know well or perhaps I can see from his interests that he’s a cyclist like me. Whatever it may be, try to find something to start a short conversation to build on your relationship. Make the effort to find out more.

So I’ve covered a couple of the initial steps we tend to forget about. Let’s look at composing a message to a group of connections.

#3: Composing a Group Mailing

First, you can only send a message to 50 people at any one time. This is a good thing; otherwise, I’m sure you would see a lot of spam. There are a couple of things to note here:

  • Your Opening: If you’re sending an email to a group of connections, think about your greeting. How are you going to address them? I suggest you start with something like “Hi everyone” or “Greetings to you all” and then immediately say “Please excuse my lack of personalization in this email, as I am sending this out to a group of connections.” That way, you can be forgiven by any possible bad manners critics.
  • Hide Others’ Email Addresses: Always uncheck the box that says, “Allow recipients to see each other’s email address.” This makes the email a BCC (blind carbon copy). Value other people’s privacy by not sharing their email addresses with everyone else.

When you receive a message yourself this way, respond where possible, depending on whether the content is relevant to you. If the sender has followed the rules below about message content and what to add, hopefully you found something of interest.

What about the message content?

If you want your connections to leave you in droves, feel free to write about all the good things you or your company can do or offer!

I’ve made this mistake in the past myself and then I came to my senses. I realized I needed to treat this form of communication just the same as my newsletters: add valuable resources.

People don’t want to hear about you all the time and what you can offer, but they do want to know about how you could possibly help fix one of their problems.

A recent example of an email to my connections looked like this.

Nowhere is there anything about my company; simply three bits of information I thought would be great to pass on. The message contained a great book that most businesses could probably utilize, a free event being put on by two great companies and a website that may save a business a bit of money.

By keeping in touch this way, my aim is to simply add value, but at the same time, put myself back on the radar of my connections.

#4: How to Ask for Recommendations

Recommendations are a valuable part of your LinkedIn profile and could be the one thing that gets you the deal when a possible client is comparing you to your competitor. Most people only have a couple of recommendations so you can stand out from the crowd with a good number of genuine and applicable recommendations. I suggest 10 as a minimum, but feel free to ask for more.

You’ll notice there’s another auto-generated template that needs personalizing, not only the body of the message but also the subject line. I like to change mine to read something like “Recommendation request” as the subject line and “Are you able to write a recommendation about the presentation I did for your company last week?” in the main body. Don’t make the request too long, but be clear on what you want a recommendation for.

If you’re asking Paul for a recommendation about a seminar he attended that featured you as a speaker, you could change the message to say, “I hope you enjoyed the seminar last week. If you feel that you’re able to write a brief recommendation about how you found my presentation and speaking skills, I would appreciate it. I totally understand if you would prefer not to. Kind regardsโ€ฆ”

There’s no need to open your message with “Dear โ€ฆ” as LinkedIn will automatically add that for you.

One last tip I’d like to share with you is to install a spellcheck in your browser bar if you don’t already have one. Go to and download it free of charge. You just need to remember to click the little icon each time you’ve completed a space where you want to check your spelling.

You’ll be amazed at how many times you make a mistake and need to correct it. You can then use this on any form field you fill out online, not just for LinkedIn. Remember, first impressions count, so don’t let all of your hard work be undone with spelling mistakes.

In a nutshell, you should personalize every aspect of LinkedIn that you can, make each standard template your own. It may take you a little longer, but the value you’ll get from doing the job right will far outweigh the effort.

Ask yourself, if you were meeting face to face, what would you do differently?

People easily judge on first impressions, so make yours a great one, each and every time you connect.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you get your personality across when connecting online, so feel free to share your ideas or add comments in the box below.

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  • Because the Social Media Network has become a vital part of our every day life, so too, it is becoming more advanced as each day goes by, Since the birth of Face Book and the vast amount of people turning to the Webb daily, be it for social, business or other, it was soon realized that there was a demand or at least an open option for other Social sites. From what i experience regarding the various sites, witch i all really enjoy interacting with, each of them have become slightly more time consuming, because of their multi functional capabilities in trying to compete against the various options. Because Social Media Networking is so important to marketing now, being a member with every one to its full potential, is very time consuming. Posts such as the one above do certainly help! Great stuff, for some time now i have been thinking if there were space or favor-ability for a new site that would have multi-functional capabilities that would be less time consuming to enhance. /

  • Sadly to say I just got an account the other day, and I’m looking forward to networking with some liked minds.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  • Louise Mason

    Good to know i’m doing something right – i always send a personalised invite, but not always a personalised acceptance or thanks for invite message so nice to have something to improve on.
    Thanks for spellchecker tip, i always write in word then cut and paste to web!

  • Excellent tips, I just recently started to do things like add video and tweak up my LinkedIn a little bit. I need to if I plan on retiring from being a small business owner and focusing on a few social media projects. I finally sent out some recommendation requests, the feedback was good I wish I had done them a long time ago.

    Thank you for more excellent tips, as always.

  • Linda, Thank you for these tips to keep us High Tech AND High Touch in the LinkedIn arena. Sometimes the LinkedIn experience doesn’t seem friendly and becomes more like a large networking meeting with everyone just handing out business cards. However, its as simple as sending personal messages to climb out of that stereotyped box and make sincere reach out. –Kate Williams, Social Biz Local Biz

  • Great post and Comments. Re the google toolbar and spell-check – great tip. But personally, I despise a cluttered tool bar taking up more real estate on my browser view. I typically use Word or Pages to craft language for any meaningful content. Several benefits in addition to spell check:

    1. I save the correspondence in a searchable folder for future use in similar situations
    2. The practice slows me down and forces me to think more strategically
    3. Helps me focus on the related buttons and functions of the form after I’ve crafted the essential message

    Other readers might be able to come up with more as well.

    With all this Social Tech gee-wiz stuff helping us go farther, faster, and will less manual effort, isn’t it critically important to make sure we attend to the basic social graces from time immemorial? So making sure these touch points are well-done in all respects is critical. Are they worth spend a few extra cycles?

  • Great tools and thank you so much for sharing. All the best! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love these tips because they state exactly what I believe in: getting more human in electronic communications. It really is all that matters the most, and something that will make a huge difference as we progress in the social media revolution.

  • i have registered long time ago and i have to c heck if my account is still resisting or not , thank you for the interesting informations and this guide i’ll be connected and try everything , thank you for the pictures by the way ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This tips are very valuable and I appreciate the screen shots. As a result of reading this article, I will make sure reply to connection requests, as opposed to just accept them, and I love your point about spell check; it’s so important when you’re not using outlook or MS Office. I will also recommend this article to my career seeking clients.
    To your career success!
    Josephine Hanan

  • Thanks Kate and everyone else for your comments. The high touch aspect is so important online, you will stand out for doing it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Great post, thank you!

    The only problem I have with #1 is that I don’t always know the person’s email address to send the message. But I am able to add a message if I got to the person’s page and click, ‘Add so and so to my network’. There is a generic message that appears but that can be modified, which I do change to reflect how it is that I know that individual.

    A good way to receive recommendations is to offer to do one for someone else first. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Janine Gregor
    Virtual Assistant

  • Thanks Josephine. The spell check is a biggy, I am constantly typing too fast and getting letters around the wrong way.

  • Deb

    Hi Linda, Excellent tips! It was kind of like a “Duh” moment for me as I read them because you brought up points that should be considered polite and proper conduct. Yet, while I do go to LI and check the person’s profile that wants to connect, I don’t always send a message to them… and I so should! Thanks for waking me up!

  • AccidentalLeader

    Linda, I’ve never done this, so if it’s obvious I apologize. May I post this on my blog? And if yes, are there any requirements other than giving you full credit? Thanks for the help, I believe my people would benefit greatly from this post a swell. Sue

  • Anthony Policastro

    Excellent article, Linda! I used to respond personally to every connection on Linkedin, but then it became too overwhelming. You’re article reminded me that no matter what, I need to respond personally. Thanks.
    I want to add that the same rules apply to email marketing of newsletters. Your newsletter should have value for your readers and not contain only announcements about what you or your company are doing.

  • Hi Deb, We all do it for some reason, but I guess now we are getting a bit more au fait with the online networking space, we need to make those adjustments to bring back the human element. Thanks for all of your comments everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thanks perfectly fine with full attribution ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Excellent tips. I love quick tips for getting the most out of social media.

    Tiffany Risner

  • Great tips and don’t forget, you can add your blog feed onto your LinkedIn page too!

  • Harriet

    Thanks for the tips.

  • I agree, thanks Linda for the spellchecker tip! It’s good to be reminded of these little tools that make a difference.

  • As a LI junkie, I love this!!!

  • Mbhwrites

    Thanks for the excellent tips! I have utilized all of these for expanding my awareness and my client’s reach, except for the group messaging. Now that I realize how easy it is I will implement that technique as well.

    Yes, Navah, it is important to link back to your website and blog too – which I am in the midst of updating both.

    Mary Beth Huffman
    IMPACT Marketing and Public Relations

  • Wendy Snyder Soucie

    Instead of using LinkedIn paid profile organizer, I use “flights” to add my new linkedIn contacts into a social business relationship manager. I can then follow my progress in socializing with my new connections both in LinkedIn and other locations. I can tweet them or send an email for further correspondence. I have also used Xeesm to track my workshop participants on their LinkedIn progress to a “complete” profile. Useful tool along with the different social media networking sites.

  • Richard

    Linda Coles, This piece is right on target! Mike Wise comments are on the mark. Every comment made thus far reveal how far and how we have to go at the same time. Thank you linda Coles for the article and the stirring. Thanks to all giving feedback, everyone touch a lightbulb switch! Linda Coles, I would like to use your article, refer to, giving you all the credit. What requirements must I meet? Let me know if this is ok?

  • Good post here Linda, I try to make all my connection requests and recommendation requests personal and NOT use the default text that LinkedIn provides. I agree with spellchecking and if you use Firefox there is a pretty cool option that makes mispelled words stand out like how they do in MS Word.

  • Sharon Young

    Thank you so much for the ‘top tips’ – I am a LinkedIn newbie and although I have worked hard to gain contacts and develop network, this post is going to help me work ‘smarter not harder’. I do subscribe to your posts and always find them invaluable!

    Ps/ as per some other requests above I would love to put a link on my blog to yours and use your article (with full credit attributed of course) – would that be ok?

  • Aherman

    I think when on certain social network sites, when appropriate, tell about something that might have just happened to you while driving to work or maybe you had a bad experience with the clerk at the store, whatever is happening during your day . People like to hear about things that happen to regular people and I think they feel more connected to you because of the human aspect. (but always be honest with your stories, people can sense if you are not being truthful.)

  • Betty Brennan

    Excellent tips. I will certainly be making some changes to how I use LinkedIn. Thanks!

  • Good post… Just to add to this there has been an update to the companies ection of LinkedIn and i now include a recommendations. Switched on LinkedIn marketers should be aware of this. Here is a link to a post on how to use the recommendations section

  • Great info Linda. Now if you would address the issue of having a professionally created portrait on one’s profile page instead of a snapshot with poor lighting and a bad pose, they would be great!

  • Victoria Ipri

    Many Linkedin users complain about spinning their wheels. A lot of time is spent ‘connecting’, but lead generation remains low. Often, this is the disconnect between effective use of the network and a profile which exists merely as a placeholder. Along with Linda’s suggestions for message personalization (which I strongly endorse as an excellent tactic that really works), I’ve found it impactful to ask how I can help when accepting connections. A simple, “Thanks for the invite, Richard! Anything I can help you with in online marketing? I’m always available to brainstorm!” tells the reader you are warm, welcoming, open and available…and aren’t expecting to be paid right out of the gate. Without a doubt, this has been the single most effective conversation starter for my corporation, helping us to uncover leads we might otherwise never have known existed. Of course, it only works if you are willing to commit to the time necessary for relationship building. Don’t offer to help if you’re not serious about delivering on your promise.

  • Great article Linda.

    I always put my web address under my comments and when I thank people for responding or inviting me to connect. You never know!

    Jenni Wright

  • A great list. By far, number 1 is the most important in my book. Using the generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” It’s like the that Ameriprise commercial: people seem to forget that social media is suppose to be social. You have to make it personal in order to make a solid connection with someone – at least that’s how I see it.

    As a general rule, unless you’re a close friend or someone I’ve always done or intend to do business with, the likelihood of my accepting an invitation to connect is greatly diminished if it’s sent with no details about you or why we should connect.

    About spell checking: I highly suggest using a browser with built in spell checking like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. That way, there’s no need to manually spell check; it’s done for you as you type.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Geneene

    Hello Everyone, (How’m I du-in so fah?) Well you asked how do I show my personality in social media? I juz love spellin’ stuf the way it sounds. I think pe-pole get my sense of humer that way. Whattayathink?
    Geneene Thornton

  • Geneene

    Hey Sharon, I’ve been signed up with Linken for some time but don’t use it or other SM stuff much. It’s awesome but seems to take up so much time. I know, I know….it’s way of the future and of course the present and I am du-in my bes to get it done..I loved these tips as well and thank everyone for their inputs.

  • Hi Richard, Thanks for the blast ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad to be of service. You may use the info as long as you link back to this site with full attribution.

  • The spell check is very important and one that does it for you must be the best option. Thanks for sharing that bit of info ๐Ÿ™‚

  • What part of Linkedin would you like me to write about next? How about upgrading your account?

  • Janet

    re: Spellcheck – Nothin’ wrong with with writing like ya talk, as long as it doesn’t require a translator to comprehend the message. I read some of the stuff from my daughter’s facebook friends, all have hit the big 3-0 milestone, I hope they aren’t home schooling their kids! Between the shorthand and slang, I can’t imagine any of them spelling a word correctly in the offline world.

    I think the key to remember – is to keep in mind who’s attention you’re trying to grab and how you want them to perceive you. We all have “multiple personalities”. example – One doesn’t speak to their children the same way that they do when they’re in the bedroom with their partner.

    I’m not inundated with requests, but I have become selective about who I accept into MY virtual spaces. I like to know that it’s someone who has an invitation for what’s in my mind, has something of value to offer, and not just taking names.

    You are joy!

  • Janet

    Mark, I think that the “poor lighting and a bad pose” ads character and personality in some instances. Me, personally, I’m not all that comfortable with the “celebrity” of the social net world. Good lighting and a good pose, I think I’d still feel naked, no matter what I’m wearing. HOWEVER, I know that comfort is stagnating, so I will keep your suggestion in mind.

    You are joy!

  • Media Girl

    Thank you for the great reminders. I’m frankly quite surprised when I get the standard connection email, particularly when it’s from someone I don’t know (and I get them all the time). Give me a reason why it would be worth my while to connect! I would never dream of asking in the way that I am asked. I feel the same about recommendations, so your example is a great suggestion — don’t assume everyone is going to want to do it just because you’ve asked! Be respectful of others’ time and don’t make assumptions. You are so right on.

  • Excellent! This article came RIGHT on time as I just started connecting with LI open networkers and was thinking how I could make my replies more personal. I’ve seen some people’s responses to invitations (too salesy) and already knew not to go that route. Basically, I just introduce myself, ask to connect on Twitter & FB, and, if their title seems interesting, I check out their blog/website and make a brief comment about it in my LI reply. Now, on to getting more recommendations!

  • When adding someone to my network, there is a box to put a personalized message in, so the first tip is good but inaccurate.

    The rest is awesome, but what about groups, Q&A and other features?

  • I think I love your advice on keeping away from self promotion. Besides, it’s a major turn off to your potential clients. Thanks for your helpful tips here. I wonder if you thing that answering questions in LinkedIn Answers will help boost your profile — or, is it just a waste of time?

  • hotsocialbuzz

    I’d say you hit the nail on the head! Some excellent take-aways.

  • Marktnorman

    Linda..nice piece…in 19 months I went from 3 connections to almost 2100 but I have been following your outline on my own from the start. Whether I am the one who requests the connection or another individual reaches out to me I always thank them with a personalized note. I get many of my contacts from the groups that I am in. I started 10 (the limit) of my own and I am constantly inviting people (via a personalized note) to join my groups (I focus on two)…once there I am contantly engaging them in dialogue during postings. It is relatively simple but you must be disciplined.

  • Hi Mark, Your focus is a good idea. I am in quite a few groups but not active in them as you just can’t be everywhere at the same time. I stay simply so I am accessible to others and them to me ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This article caught my eye because I’ve been receiving an increased number of inquiries from people who found me on LinkedIn. I definitely place quality over quantity in my marketing and this extends to my LinkedIn activities. I always use personalized messages. I’ve also found a great way to initiate a conversation is to ask someone specific open-ended questions about their business, marketing or networking. People enjoy talking about themselves. The advantage to you is that you get to learn a little more about the person and whether or not they would be an ideal prospect for you in the first place. Of course this type of conversation has to be grounded in genuine interest or you risk sounding like a robotic marketer. SME is an amazing resource. Keep up the good work!

  • I definitely need to start using LinkedIn more often because there are a ton of powerful relationships to be built on LinkedIn

  • I used LinkedIn Answers a lot too. That helps establish credibility.

  • Guest

    Personalizing your messages when trying to establish new connections is essential on LinkedIn, as their service is a bit different than other social networks imo. With LinkedIn the hope is to create an actual network of people with which to establish a mutual beneficial relationship. Good points.

  • Kapilmudholkar

    Very informative post. I truly believe that LinkedIn offers much more opportunities to connect with right people compared to Facebook and Twitter. The need is to use it properly.

    Social Marketer

  • quite informative… thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  • quite informative… thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Phyllis

    Great tips. Just as in face to face networking, it is important to differentiate yourself. Too many people are connection collectors and are not really using their resource to actually connect and benefit from the capability.

  • Nice tips Linda @BlueBanana20 I saw this thanks to a stumble by @NealSchaffer I am pleased to add this to my delicious and stumbleupon bookmarks.

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  • Hi Linda,

    As always, your tips and advice are spot on

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  • I have upgraded my account and I find some of the features useful, but I’d really like some infomation on how to use the new features to their full potential.

  • Good advice, Linda. Like other commenters below, I’m surprised how often someone sends me a connection, I reply with a little “Hello, sorry but where do we know each other from?” type comment, and then nothing. Mind you, I’m probably guilty of the same offence on occasions. Also, I agree with the ‘connection collectors’ you talk about. I’m just starting out (after 17 years of teaching) but I still can’t see the value of having lots of connections (unless you pay someone to look after your account, is that possible?); it is surely impossible to keep up with all of them. I’m aiming for 100 connections who I can be of use to (and visa versa, of course).

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