- Dean Drobo/Shutterstock
- LinkedIn messages can be tricky – sometimes they’re even harder to navigate than an actual job interview.
- There are a few mistakes you should always try to avoid when you are reaching out to someone.
- Spelling and grammar errors, skipping out on research and sounding unprofessional are things that can quickly derail your chances of getting noticed or get you noticed in all the wrong ways.
Trying to navigate LinkedIn messages – we’ve all been there.
Nowadays, it’s more common than ever that people looking to enter the working world, switch careers, or just find a new job will look to LinkedIn to leverage their network.
Whether it’s reaching out to an alum from your school or connecting with someone from an event, there are rules and etiquette when it comes to your initial messaging that will make you look more like a superstar and less like a slacker.
I have sifted through hundreds of LinkedIn messages since I started managing Business Insider’s social accounts, and there are things that quickly turn me off from a message. Here are 7 of them:
1. You don’t send any message
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When I open a LinkedIn request, nothing makes me roll my eyes faster than seeing the standard, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”
While it’s convenient that LinkedIn provides a general message for each request, it can be the first indicator that you requested to connect with someone without putting much thought into it.
What to do instead:Always add your own message. If you’ve previously met or have a mutual connection, a short message with a reminder to jog their memory makes all the difference.
If you are cold-messaging someone, introduce yourself and let them know what brought you to their profile and why you are interested in connecting.
More often than not, if someone includes a message when they request to connect with me, I’ll respond because I appreciate the time they took to write a note. Those without a message usually get stuck in the purgatory of unanswered requests.
2. You didn’t do your research
- Flickr/Chase Elliott Clark
When reaching out to someone, it’s important to do a little recon before sending the initial request.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received messages from people saying they love my work at INSIDER. Unfortunately for them, I work at Business Insider. And although INSIDER is our sister site and the team does great work there, a quick look at my LinkedIn profile or my Instagram would let you know that I work on the other side of the office.
Sending a message without doing your research gives off the impression that you didn’t care enough to put in the extra effort.
What to do instead:Take a cursory glance at their LinkedIn profile or even do a quick Google search. Taking the extra few minutes to know a little something about the person you are reaching out to will serve you better than being the person who requests their connection the fastest.
3. You were too vague
If you send a request to a potential connection and simply just introduce yourself, they may not be entirely sure what you’re looking for from their connection. If you’re clear about what you want up front, you’re more likely to get an answer in return.
What to do instead:Ask to set up a call or grab a coffee. You may even ask for some advice. That way they’ll have a more informed answer.
4. You didn’t play it cool
- Garry Knight/Flickr
I won’t lie, I get excited when recent graduates of my university reach out and want to chat. I like having my ego stroked, OK? Sue me.
I am more than happy to offer advice, talk to them about working at Business Insider, or even meet for coffee. What I don’t get excited about is someone asking me to pass along their résumé right off the bat.
Play it cool, at least for a little while.
What to do instead:Ask to chat first and use the initial conversation to gauge what the company is like, what the person may or may not like about it, and what sort of experience their company is looking for.
If they offer to take a look at your résumé or pass it along to someone there who is hiring, thank them for the offer and pass it along.
5. You used the same general message for every person
- Marco Arment / Flickr
Using a general template that you’ve crafted as a starting point is fine, but you need to put in a little something extra to really make you stand out.
Without adding in a personal touch to your message, you’re not showing the recipient that you took the time to research and message them.
What to do instead:It makes people feel good to be complimented, so pointing out a piece of work or a post on their social media profile that you enjoyed gives your message a little something extra.
6. You were unprofessional
- REUTERS/Chris Helgren
Living in a digital age filled with social media and emojis, it’s easy to forget that even a quick message on LinkedIn still needs to be professional.
What to do instead:Make sure to use proper grammar and professional language when writing your note, and leave the LOLs and smileys for Instagram comments.
7. You didn’t proofread
- Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com
As someone who works in editorial, I cringe seeing LinkedIn messages that were clearly typed in a hurry. I’d rather someone take the extra few minutes to re-read things than send something minutes after meeting.
What to do instead: So you’re not tempted to immediately hit send, you could write out your message in Word, Google Docs, Notes, or elsewhere before sending it.
Grammarly is also a great extension for your web browser that catches spelling and grammar mistakes without needing to create a document.
Take a few moments to re-read your message once and then take a few minutes to step away from the computer. When you return, take a second look, and once you’re satisfied, hit send.