Getting to know people in real life may be easy, but connecting with complete strangers online in hopes of gaining something from the exchange can be quite challenging.
It’s funny how every other advice-giver seems to love saying, “Make sure you network,” or “Try building connections,” without offering other pieces of crucial information concerning how on earth to do that!
The advice, it seems, is usually incomplete.
Every other Bob and Barbara knows that the networking game plays a major role when it comes to professions or career advancement.
What they can’t seem to figure out is how to approach a random stranger online and actually get them to trust what they have to say.
Countless professionals receive messages and emails everyday asking for them for their help, advice or just an opportunity to connect. Yet, not every message or email they receive will be responded to.
Then what makes professionals notice a person they are actually willing to connect with? That’s exactly what we are going to discuss today. Here are seven tips for connecting with strangers on LinkedIn.
1. Conduct a Background Check
I don’t mean that you’re going to be suspicious of this person’s activities in the past. If so, you should be thinking twice about connecting.
I mean that before you approach the individual you should complete a thorough investigation on the person. Who are they? How did you get to know them?
Is there any other information you can gather about this person through their blog, website, books, interviews, pictures, profiles or works? Once you’ve done your homework, you’re all set to approach this person with informed and intelligent things to say.
2. Refer to Something in Common
This trick works well even in real-life situations. You want to connect to a stranger? Find out something you have in common.
Naturally, we assume that if a person who shares the same/similar traits, beliefs, values, skills or experiences, we’re better connected. Perhaps, we feel we can relate to this person and receive or provide advice on the subject.
Whatever the reason, leading with something in common is a great way to strike up a conversation with a stranger and actually get their attention.
3. Get to the Point—Fast
People are busy. They have jobs to do, chores to attend to, people to spend time with and other numerous errands to run. Wasting the individuals time by going on and on about how you found them or background information on yourself is only going to annoy them.
Keep it short and get to the point — fast.
4. Avoid Being Too Direct
On one hand, you want to avoid wasting their time with irrelevant information and get to the point. On the other hand, you want to steer clear of appearing too greedy.
Your intention to connect could be to find a link to a dream job. However, avoid being direct about your intentions because they probably already have a long list of people who they’re more willing to give the offer to — most likely people who are not complete strangers.
Give the relationship building some time and effort, and always remember that you have to give before you can get. A good rule to follow is to avoid thinking about what they can do for you and instead focus on what you do for them and how to strengthen the relationship.
Once that has been mastered, there’s no harm taking what need.
5. Portray Your Sincerity
You could either be a serious connector or just a fisherman looking for random connections. Whichever you are, you certainly don’t want to appear to be the latter.
With your words, you can portray yourself to be a serious candidate looking for a serious relationship. A great way to do this is to list your qualifications relevant to your pitch.
Looking for some marketing advice? Highlight what you have already achieved in the field of marketing. Need a link to a developer’s job? Tell ‘em what you’ve built so far. Get the idea?
6. Update Your Profile
Imagine receiving one of those Facebook friend requests or messages with no mutual friends, no profile picture to recognize the person and barely any other information to identify the person with.
You’re certainly not going to add this person to your list of friends when there is no way you can find out what you have in common with this person. This is similar to what goes on in LinkedIn.
Even though it’s a platform where connecting with a stranger is commonplace, the rules of having a sound and solid profile (including pictures) apply here as well.
7. Start Now!
You shouldn’t have to wait until you need to connect to actually start networking. Connections take time and patience to build, and many times, it’s those long-term relationships that actually that pay off.
As mentioned earlier, you have to give before you can get. Start building your connections now so that at the time of need, you have the connections to use as resources and take what you require.