5 mistakes to avoid when sending LinkedIn requests

PR pros know the importance of networking, but these common missteps when connecting online can doom a relationship before it begins.

Given the expanse and importance of LinkedIn, most people try to add and accept meaningful connections on the professional network.

Still, there are reasons why you might not be making the connections you are hoping for:

1. You’re not sending a personalized message

If someone walked up to you at a networking event and said, “I’d like to add you to my professional network,” you would probably give him a confused look. Sending a generic LinkedIn invitation to a stranger without introducing yourself is a big mistake.

Instead, check their profile and find a meaningful interest that you share. Start by introducing yourself, and then mention the thing you have in common. Your potential connection needs to understand who you are. It is also crucial that they see how they, too, can benefit from this professional connection.

2. Your profile is lacking significant information

If you don’t have a headline or a professional profile photo, chances are your connection requests are going to be ignored. Having a complete LinkedIn profile and optimizing it for search help potential connections to know that you are legit.

How can you make sure that your LinkedIn profile is complete? Make sure you have these important components:

  • Headline. Describe what you do and whom you work for.
  • Summary. This is arguably the most important element on your profile. The LinkedIn algorithm searches for keywords on your page, so take full advantage of the 2,000-character space to tell people what you do. Jazz it up by adding mixed media, such as images and videos.
  • Experience. Your profile will seem incomplete and humdrum if you don’t go beyond what’s on your résumé. Adding relevant images, videos, presentations or articles will help your profile stand out and enhance your credibility.
  • Endorsements . Unfortunately, our competitive society loves numbers. Opting out of endorsements or having very few will make your profile seem suspicious. Reach out to family members or co-workers to boost endorsements.
  • Connections. When someone is considering your invitation, they think, “How will this connection benefit my network?” Ten to 20 connections is a small, unimpressive network. Try connecting with friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors, fellow alumni and former colleagues before you send connection requests to prospects and recruiters.
  • Customizable LinkedIn URL. You can create your URL based on your first and last name or the industry in which you are knowledgeable.

Although there is no one right way to craft a LinkedIn profile, you will be more likely to connect with prospects and recruiters if your profile is complete and optimized.

3. Your spelling, punctuation, and capitalization is flawed.

If you have improper spelling, punctuation and capitalization, people will be inclined to delete your request. Most prospects and recruiters will call you out for it every time. On a professional network, you must clean up your mistakes and have a polished profile.

4. You’re spelling their name wrong.

Check and double-check the name of your potential connection. If you misspell their name or call them by the wrong name, you will be ignored.

5. You’re trying to sell something.

If you want to sell something to a prospect on LinkedIn, do not try to do so on your initial request. Many prospects and recruiters want to cultivate their professional networks. They don’t want you sending some crappy sales pitch to all their connections. Try having a more meaningful conversation rather than sending a template sales pitch.

No matter how you change your approach to connecting, some people will not accept your request. Don’t take it personally; users have varied philosophies. It might just be an indication that your targeted person isn’t seeing what they would gain by connecting with you.

Why do you accept or reject LinkedIn connection requests?

Melinda Lathrop is a PR major at Champlain College and a social media intern at Delta Marketing Group. You can see more of Melinda’s work at www.melindalathrop.com. A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn. ·

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