Undoubtedly, LinkedIn is the social media tool of choice for professionals. Whether you are building your network to gain career opportunities, reach potential contacts or stay connected with peers and colleagues, make sure you follow these rules:
• Don’t reach out to people you don’t know. Some people are not interested in building new connections, and they may disapprove of unwelcome invitations. Send invitations to only those people you have met before. If you are looking to broaden your network, ask a current contact to introduce you to her connections. Or join groups and participate in conversations to connect with new people.
• Put forth a consistent brand. Your profile, the content you share and even the comments you make in groups and on other people’s updates should present a uniform, professional image.
• Add a personal touch. When you reach out to contacts, explain how you know them and why building a connection with them is meaningful to you. Don’t use the default message, as it makes you appear insincere. In addition, acknowledge work anniversaries, birthdays, new jobs and promotions with a customized message. Example: “Congrats on the promotion! I remember the first time we met in the break room at ABC corp., and I knew you were going places.”
• Avoid advertising. If you connect with people purely to sell them something, they will disconnect from you very quickly. Instead, write and share quality content to build your brand and promote your business.
— Adapted from “7 Truths About LinkedIn Everybody Needs to Know,” Jayson Demers, Time.