Very recently I received an invitation from someone to be in their network. At first I was pleased to see “See more” below the person’s Headline. This was promising, as it means the person had taken the time to personalize the invite.
In some cases the personalized invites are flattering, telling me how much they enjoyed reading a post I had written. In other cases the requester tells me how we know each other; maybe he attended one of my workshops. In a few cases the person might elaborate on how we met, using all the 300 characters allotted for an invite.
At the end of the invite, the good ones write, “Please let me know if I can be of assistance.”
Almost never do I get a request in the first invite to have me review her LinkedIn profile, which begins with, “Can you review my profile?” That’s it. No flattery, no explaining how we know each other. But this one said exactly that.
What I did
The first thing I did was to click ignore without a second thought. No regret or guilt. After all, I do the same when there is no personalized invite, indicating no effort and plain laziness.
Then I shared on LinkedIn my experience with some of my valued connections. The post was not meant to be a complaint as much to as to be a learning moment. However, the conversation took off and and is still brewing.
The comments mostly support my thoughts on the rude way the individual asked me to review his profile. Some write I was being a bit harsh and should have understood some people don’t understand LinkedIn etiquette.
None say I was completely out of line with my action. As I said, the conversation is still brewing, so I’m bound to get “You’re being the LinkedIn police, Bob.” I hope it doesn’t come to this, but I firmly believe that one shouldn’t ask for a favor in their first invitation.
When should one ask for a favor, deliver the ask?
At minimum there are four steps you should take before delivering the “ask.” Whether you’re asking for services or trying to sell a product, you need to develop a relationship with the person from whom you need a favor.
1. The initial introduction: Most of us are on LinkedIn to help each other; this is our community. However, there is etiquette one must follow. First, a proper invite is required.
“Bob, I’ve followed your posts on LinkedIn and many of them resonate with me. I’d like to connect with you so I can have direct access to your articles. Please let me know if I can be of assistance.”
Your invitation is accepted and you are now first degree connections, so your next step is to thank your new connection for accepting you to their network. This is still not the time to make the “ask.”
2. Get noticed by your new connection. There should be at least one more correspondence or interaction, perhaps a comment on a shared idea or post. Even a like would count as an interaction; although not as significant as a comment. You are on your new connection’s radar.
3. You should comment on one or more shares from your new connection. It’s not hard to discover what your connection shares; simply go to their profile and click “See all activity” under the person’s Activities and Articles section.
4. You’re established. After the second or third interaction is your chance to make the “ask.” You still want to be diplomatic, not blunt, in your request. Send a direct message from your connection’s profile. Go ahead; don’t be afraid to hit the message button (seen below).
“Hi Bob. I’ve enjoyed being in your network. I’ve learned more about what you do, and I’ve read your profile. On your profile you say you will briefly review your connections’ profile. Would you kindly review mine at your convenience. I appreciate your expertise. Again, let me know if I can help you.”
At this time your connection should be willing to do a favor for you. I know I would. The most important thing is feeling out your new connection to see if they’re open to doing a favor for you. These are the four minimum steps you should take before asking for a favor from a new connection.
Now go to the comment I shared with my connections. BUILD A RELATIONSHIP FIRST. Leave your comment there, good, bad, or ugly.
Photo: Flickr, Jon Fravel