If you’re involved in business development or recruitment, you’re already spending lots of time on LinkedIn. That’s me! As a self-described LinkedIn junkie, everyone who knows me knows that as a result of all the time I spend there, I have strong opinions on LinkedIn etiquette, and have no qualms about calling someone out who violates rules that I consider sacred and obvious. That being said, I also respect, appreciate and draw from the higher powers in the LinkedIn universe, people like Wayne Breitbarth, author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success, the seminal book on the subject, and Lindsey Pollak, a widely read blogger for LinkedIn. They and others regularly offer great etiquette and effectiveness advice that I continue to draw on. I should also add one caveat: I’m still learning from some of my own mistakes, and occassionally draw rightful fire from other etiquette police. Mea culpa.
So here’s what I believe (so far!) are the 10 most important LinkedIn etiquette tips:
Connect with people you know. Sounds obvious, but accepting invitations from unknowns makes no sense, nor is it appropriate to invite the same. My own decision rule is very simple: I accept invitations from people I have met and respect as professionals, and from people whose reputations precede them through trusted recommendations or public scrutiny.
Respond politely. Whether or not you accept an invitation to connect, a direct, professional response is usually the best next step. If I turn down an invitation because I don’t know someone, I usually encourage them to find a way for us to meet personally so we can eliminate that objection.
Say please and thank you. Frequently. What we all should have learned in kindergarten applies to LinkedIn as well. When you ask for something say please. When someone does something considerate, even if it’s not invited, say thanks.
Keep updates interesting and professional. We want to know when you’ve accomplished something noteworthy, read something that’s valuable, or discovered something you think should be shared. We (I) don’t care what you had for lunch or what you’re doing this weekend with your family. Save it for Facebook.
Give recommendations to get recommendations. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a recommendation. But the best way to ask is to first give one. When you think about it, the best recommendations should come from the people you know and respect the most, who naturally are the people you can most genuinely recommend.