A few days ago I got an email notification that a person invited me to connect on LinkedIn (If you’re not active there, you should be. Read why here.). It had the default message, so I decided to hit reply and ask how the person found me and what prompted the interest in connecting with me on LinkedIn. This was the message I got back.
I am current pursuing my CPA and live in Chicago. I have completed BEC already and planning to give the other three in next three months. I was randomly searching for CPAs in Chicago to connect ith them in order to learn more about the opportunities available for professionals in the accounting field. Also in case you know about any job openings or opportunities for me please do let me know as I am looking for a job. For any further questions feel free to contact me at any time.
You notice anything wrong with it? The email was nicely written but falls short on a couple of things.
First, I don’t live in Chicago anymore and haven’t since 2010. By simply going to my LinkedIn profile, anyone can see that I’m located in the bay area.
Second, to tell someone you found them via “random” search and then immediately ask for help finding a job is probably not going to get you the results you want. Yes, it’s social media. Still, you can’t forget you’re still dealing with real people when communication is virtual. If you wouldn’t walk up to a random person and ask them for a job in person then you shouldn’t do it online.
Etiquette on LinkedIn is the same as real life
Usually, when people reach out with the default LinkedIn message I ask them why they want to connect. They normally respond with something a little more thoughtful about having read something of mine on the blog, sharing some professional interest/group, or offering a potential job opportunity and I accept the invitation. Notice how none of those mentioned the individual initiating contact wanting a favor.
I point this out not to embarrass the person, but to share a lesson that might help you next time you’re thinking of reaching out to someone you want to build a relationship with on Linkedin or in real life. Whether that person is me or someone else, you’ll do better to establish a rapport first. Over time, I’ve learned not to assume what seems like common sense to me is common sense to someone else. Going into any professional situation talking about everything you want to get out of the deal instead of what you can offer to help looks narcissistic at worst and painfully oblivious at best.
Taking a few minutes to write a custom message can be the difference between you making a career-changing connection and you sending another unanswered message.