The "Emily Post" Guide to LinkedIn Etiquette

 Learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for maximum networking.

Ok, so this is more the ‘Tuni Schartner’ guide to LinkedIn etiquette, and anyone that knows me is probably getting a chuckle right about now as I tend to tell it like it is and I’ve been known to be honest to a fault!  I’m not, necessarily, who you would think of in an Emily Post reference. But, when it comes to LinkedIn I think I have a pretty decent grasp on best practices around ‘how to behave appropriately’.   I’m, at my core, a relationship marketer – I enjoy meeting and getting to know people and I’m a natural connector and facilitator of putting together mutually beneficial relationships.

We should start with the very simple basic facts:

  1. LinkedIn is a platform designed for professionals to engage, it is not a ‘social’ site like Facebook or a dating site (more on that later!).
  2. Professionals are people.  When it comes to sharing your professional information on LI, remember that even the top CEOs (or whoever you’re trying to connect with) are people so information should be created and delivered in a way that the ‘people’ on the other end hopefully find interesting, become engaged and might even convert into clients/customers or great referral sources.
  3. LinkedIn is a GREAT way to connect with and build your audience! 

A great quote from the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman:

"LinkedIn is a closed network, and for a very simple reason: For the network to have value as an introduction tool, the connections need to have meaning. It's up to you to vet each and every request so that if someone comes to you and says, 'Would you introduce me?' you're in a position to evaluate whether the connection would be of mutual benefit."

*Quote taken from the book, ‘Never Eat Alone’ by KeithFerrazzi. 

Hoffman’s quote really hits the nail on the head.  Why are you here?  LinkedIn can be a highly effective tool in your toolbox for creating connections then building trust with those connections that turn into mutually beneficial relationships.  

I often recommend to our clients, our Hive coworking members, and at workshops I lead on the topic of ‘Painless Networking Tips to Grow Your Business’ that when an authentic connection is made, say at a business networking event or through a warm introduction, etc…you then send a connection request on LinkedIn with a personalized note – as well as follow them on their other appropriate platforms ‘appropriate’ being the operative word here as their personal Facebook page wouldn’t make sense if this is strictly a professional connection.  In the case that a connection is made at a networking, business or even personal event and it appears that this might be a mutually beneficial connection, I recommend you follow up immediately with a personal email (or phone call or both) then go to LinkedIn and send that connection request and note.  If you find someone on LinkedIn that you’d like to be connected with – for different reasons such as, he/she is a colleague of a friend or client, someone you’ve met in the past through business or even an old schoolmate that you found on LinkedIn that makes sense (again in a professional and respectful way) to connect with , a new client (individual and team members),  and so on, use the same basic practice of sending a connection request with a personal note explaining why you’d like to connect.

Ok, now back to that reference to LinkedIn NOT being a dating site…don’t ever ask someone to ‘hang out’ or in any other way ‘hit on’ someone on this platform – it’s creepy folks, this is a professional platform.  Sorry, this literally just happened to me and as I was planning on writing this week’s Hub Digital blog on this topic…couldn’t resist and had to add this ‘what not to do’ tip!

Another what NOT to do tip, and this one is HUGE, don’t send someone a connection request and as soon as they accept it send them a super cheesy straight up sales pitch.  ‘I love it when people do this’ SAID NO ONE EVER!!!  

Overview: LinkedIn is a great resource and tool.  Use it to highlight your unique value proposition, differentiator, expertise and unique personality in a professional and respectful way that would make both Emily Post and I proud!  Grow your network, grow your business through solid relationships and the mutually beneficial sharing of information and connectivity!