By Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady
Messaging With Your Connections
One of the benefits of having connections on LinkedIn is that you are able to directly send them messages. This is also a feature that I've seen used poorly on several occasions. Let's look at how to use LinkedIn messaging effectively to continue to build professional relationships. Let's also look at some guidelines for how to use this feature well.
The Value of Mutually Beneficial Relationships
To have successful professional networking relationships, make sure those relationships are mutually beneficial. Networking is about give and take. Make sure that you are adding value along the way. This includes sharing useful content, congratulating people on their accomplishments, and answering one-off questions when people are asking for advice. In short, be a good LinkedIn neighbor. If you give more than you take, your LinkedIn connections will be more likely to want to help you. This is the real secret to successful professional networking--make sure it's a two-way street.
Messages That Add Value
When you contact people directly, be sure your messages are not all you asking others to do things for you. Here are a few types of messages you can send to your connections that add value to the relationship and give more than they take:
Make sure you are not THAT PERSON who only reaches out when they need a favor.
Direct Asks For Help: Worst Practices
Asking for help is an art. First, you need to be willing to ask for help. Next, you need to craft your ask in a way that you have a higher likelihood of getting that help.
Here are the most significant issues I’ve seen with how people ask for job search help:
The Worst Asks
Even though I am, by nature, a helper, here are the types of requests I receive via LinkedIn messages that will not get much of a response from me.
Why are these not good asks? For one, these are big asks. These are also the types of requests that would require me to do a lot of investigation to be truly helpful.
When you ask people to help you, put in your work first. Then, when they know you are committed to being successful, they are much more likely to help you clarify details.
Direct Asks For Help: Better Practices
Here are a few better asks, but may only work with connections who you know very well and who you have helped in the past:
These requests are specific, which is better, but each is still a sizeable request. The first two may be time intensive. The next two involve me putting my reputation on the line to recommend you for a role. The final one requires a block of my time on my calendar. Depending on our interactions prior to these requests, my response may vary from “of course!” to no response at all.
Again, remember to make sure your asks are aligned with how well you know one another.
Direct Asks for Help: Best Practices
Asks are better when they are more specific and less time intensive. It’s also helpful if there is context. Here are a few asks that are more likely to get responses. The requests earlier in this list are more likely to get a response than the ones later on:
People Get To Say No
Remember, when you are asking for help, people will tell you no. More likely than telling you a direct no, they may just not respond. Ever. Keep in mind that job searching, like sales, means that you're going to hear a whole lot of no on the way to that one yes you need. When you need a specific thing, it's useful to ask multiple people for help to give you a better chance of getting a response. It's also not personal. We're each on LinkedIn using it to varying degrees and all trying to accomplish our own goals.
Making sure that you are making the relationships mutually beneficial will make it much more likely that people will respond to you and want to lend you a hand when you need it.
7-time layoff survivor Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady, waxes poetic on layoffs, job transitions, & career resilience.