In my regular job as well as with Successful Graduate, I get to meet some really talented high school and university students. It means I get a lot of requests to connect on social media, particularly Facebook.
But as I work more and more within graduate employablity, I get a lot of requests on LinkedIn. Even more so, I get connection requests from students I have either never met or can’t remember meeting (depending on who ask, it is most likely the latter!).
Professional opinions differ, but I think it’s fine to want to connect with someone you haven’t met. When I started out, I made connections with people I admired or thought had started a career I was interested in and asked for advice.
That’s great. It can take a lot of effort to put yourself out there like that and ask for help or advice.
Here’s the thing, though. When you hit the “Connect” button on LinkedIn’s “People I Might Know” or on their app, you didn’t actually ask me anything. You just said let’s connect. Even worse, if you didn’t even look at my profile, I assume you have no idea who I am and just want to connect for the sake of it; I freely admit, for now, my name isn’t that big and important.
This is an area where most professionals fall down as well, but as a graduate, it is vitally important you use the browser version of LinkedIn and send a message when trying to connect with someone. It’s passable for people who are well into heir career. Most other professionals will more or less accept another professional’s invitation to connect if it’s immediately apparent there is some shared interest or if they’ve met in real life.
As a graduate you don’t have that luxury.
Unfortunately, the bar is set higher for you, but it’s by no means unmanageable. In fact, as most people using LinkedIn are already not getting the basics correct, it can be an easy way to differentiate yourself from others.
When trying to connect with someone new, make sure you write a tailored message acknowledging them and clearly setting out why you want to connect. Let them know a little bit about yourself and your interests as well as what it is about them that made you want to connect in the first place.
Now, I also acknowledge I might be partly to blame here. Like everyone else, I meet a lot of people and can be quite bad with names; but I am really good with a face. That’s why it’s also really important to include a recent photo of yourself as your profile picture. If a potential connection can’t remember your name, hopefully they’ll remember your face.
Surprisingly, this is also an area where many professionals fall down , but again, as a graduate, any leniency they might be given will not be extended to you.
Make sure you have a well-lit photo of yourself that clearly shows your face. It’s best to be wearing business clothes and even better if you are smiling.
Things not to do that I’ve actually seen, include:
- A guy wearing a tux and sunglasses
- A person on a beach in a bikini
- Glamour photos (people revealing a little too much skin)
- Awkward looking photos with other people cropped out
- Obviously photoshopped image of a guy’s head on model’s body
Depending on your chosen profession, whether or not you are in the act of doing something may or may not be beneficial. I know a lot of film and television people and profile pictures of them operating a camera is acceptable, but it’s something you should be mindful of. Again, as a graduate, you don’t yet have the same luxuries as other established professionals.
If you send a message along with your request as well as have a photo of yourself on your profile, the odds your invitation will be accepted increase substantially.
Now, I am actually a little tougher. Like potential recruiters, I look at a person’s profile before accepting their invitation. That way I can get a good handle on who they are as a professional and better understand why they want to connect with me, whether I can help them, etc.
That’s where the importance of a good overall profile highlighting your key strengths and experiences comes in. But that can be difficult because knowing what your strengths are requires guided self-reflection.
Successful Graduate LinkedIn and Social Media Course
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