Everyone knows it’s important to keep up with their professional network.  Your network must be nurtured, as these relationships are key to your future career success.  LinkedIn makes growing and caring for your network easy.  It is one of the most important tools you have for your job search and overall career management efforts.

Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking about the best ways to communicate using LinkedIn.

  1. Create Scripts.  This allows you to take the time to put together thoughtful communication so you can promptly reach out or respond in a powerful way rather than whatever you happen to put together at the last minute.  Here is a list of a few types of scripts you might want to put together.
  • Reconnect with someone
  • Build your network by reaching out to someone you don’t know
  • Introduce yourself to an industry thought leader
  • Refer your contact to something of value to keep you at top of mind
  • Request for Introduction or to be referred to someone who could help you
  • Connect directly with Hiring Manager
  • Connect with a Recruiter
  • Inquire about job posting
  • Request a recommendation
  • Profile change

2.  Be clear about why you are reaching out.  Sample reasons to reach out might include:

We met at [insert event] and I would love to connect via LinkedIn so I can keep up with what you  are working on.

I thought you might be interested in this [article, company, website, etc.] because [insert reason]  OR this article made me think of you because [insert reason].

I was reviewing your profile and noticed…
a. you used to work at [company ABC]
b. you got a new job at [company ABC]
c. you changed your job title to [insert title]
d. you are connected to [insert name]

I wanted to introduce you to [insert  name] because [insert reason].

3.  Briefly explain your request followed by any relevant details.  Don’t make someone read the entire message before they understand your need and a bit about the situation.

4.  Make it easy to say yes.  Don’t ask a connection to do anything that is not equal to the level of relationship you have.  For example, if you are reaching out to a stranger, don’t ask them to recommend you on LinkedIn as they don’t know you.  Remember, when someone helps you, they are essentially leveraging their OWN relationships or reputation on your behalf.  Also don’t ask your network to do a lot of legwork on your behalf.    Don’t ask from others what you can do for yourself.

5.  Focus on others and be gracious.  People who don’t express interest in others come off as self centered, needy, desperate or worse.  Don’t lead exclusively what you want or need without expressing interest in the other person. If it’s appropriate, ask about their current projects, someone that you know in common, or something personal.  Always close by expressing your desire to help them in return.  Thank the person you’re requesting help from and try to respond with something that might be valuable to that person as well.  Good relationships bring value to both parties involved. If you don’t know what might be of value, ask how you can reciprocate.  They might actually tell you and even if they don’t have something specific that you can do for them, it makes a great impression that you offered.

Use these tips and you will be amazed at how many people are willing to take action to help you.