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If you’ve heard the expression, “Your first impression, is your last impression” then you may know what I’m talking about. For a few weeks now I’ve written about using social media sites to help you develop and grow a professional network and create a personal brand with the hopes of finding a great job or reaching a new customer base. This expression fits into what I’ve been talking about. I may have spoken briefly about this before but I’d like to touch on it a bit more especially as it relates to Linkedin.
You’re building your network and so far things are going great then you notice that a lot of your “Request to Connect” are not being answered and now you may start feeling that your network has plateaued. That might be true but it could be you’re not giving that connection the best first impression. If you’re saying to yourself that “I’m not meeting this person, so a ‘virtual’ request to connect doesn’t count. If you thought this you are wrong. That button is your chance at a first impression. Linkedin gives you a short (300 character count) chance at making that first impression count. Because LinkedIn created this incredibly useful way for us to expand our network, it doesn’t mean we should take all the steps out of the process. Not customizing your request-to-connect text, can indicate that you don’t appreciate what it takes to build trust and respect. Nothing says, “I couldn’t spare 10 seconds out of my day to show you why I want to connect,” more than failing to customize the request-to-connect text. Thus, when possible connections see this default text:
“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
They may assume it’s SPAM – impersonal and not worth their time. You can avoid this assumption by taking a moment and doing a little research on the person you’re wishing to connect to first. If you already have that’s great, but taking a moment to read an article interview they did, or even an article they wrote and then mentioning it when you are requesting that connection tells them how you know them. I can actually confirm that this works. Earlier this year I reached out to Eran Dinur, VFX Director with Brianstorm Digital. I heard about Mr. Dinur from listening to a podcast that fxphd produced. They were interviewing him on his work with Boardwalk Empire and on The Men who Built America. Being a huge fan of Boardwalk Empire, I did my homework on Mr. Dinur and then reached out to him. With a day or two I got a positive response back and we keep in touch on a semi monthly basis.
When it comes to requesting you have to be careful in your reasoning to why. If you are requesting a connection with someone who you think could help you land a job, please make sure you don’t come off ‘self centered’ and off topic. This is an example of what I mean:
I got laid-off 9 months ago and time is running out on unemployment. Please connect so I can send you my resume. I need you to tell me what to do to make it stand out.
That is an example of a request, I pulled off the web, that someone sent to an individual that could have helped them if they wouldn’t have been so self-centered and off-target. I could never do that to a potential connection. Writing them and making them feel that it’s their job to fix your employment troubles is low. Doing this has seriously ruined your “First Impression.” Networking is best done when both sides enter into it professionally, politely, and without demanding rewards from the relationship before it’s even established. Build that ‘first impression’ first by letting your connections know how you know them, and a really good reason why you want to connect with them. Then build upon that new relationship by sparking conversations on topics the speak about or ones you both have interest in then you can ask that person if they would mind taking a quick moment to review your profile or resume and respond with a few tips on how to improve it. When you ask for something, make sure you always give the person a way to say no, especially if what you’re asking for only benefits you.