Every day, I receive plenty of LinkedIn connection requests. There are some people who connect with me and then never talk to me again. And then there are the others, the ones who care.
I have introduced plenty of people from the second category to others in my network out of good will because we share similar values and interests and because they did put in the necessary emotional work.
In this blog post I will show you how you can become the person that gets introduced to hiring managers and other authorities through your LinkedIn network by following up the right way.
Note: If you are looking for an extensive list of Technology Companies in Switzerland, check out the 160+ Technology Companies in Switzerland That Hire English Speakers.
The Value of Your Network
If you simply add new connections to your network on LinkedIn and never follow up, it would be wiser to spend your time doing something else like reading a book or going for a run. Having connections in your network on LinkedIn that you never talk to is the equivalent of the old days when people had huge piles of business cards in their drawer but never kept in touch with anyone.
All strong relationships are built on a mutually beneficial basis. The benefit that you provide can be completely different from the benefit you get but the perceived value has to be the same.
You Don’t Have Permission to Ask
If you simply add new connections to your LinkedIn account and never follow up, you will never have the permission to ask for referrals and introductions.
I see this every week. I get an email or LinkedIn message from somebody I don’t know who has just recently connected to me and asks for an introduction. I always decline because it’s impossible for me to introduce somebody I don’t know.
On the other hand, I have very regular contact with my most loyal readers and coaching clients because they care about what is happening and they try to make my life easier.
Some things they have done for me is introduced me to people I could potentially do business with, referred others to me who then became coaching clients, sent me an article that was timely and relevant and stated their own opinion on something I wrote. This builds trust, and over time, I introduce many of them to others in my network whenever I see an opportunity opening up.
If you genuinely follow up and keep in touch with the people you connect with on LinkedIn, over time, you have the permission to ask for referrals and introductions.
Getting Introduced to a Startup CEO
One of my personal coaching clients has put many hours of effort into networking in Switzerland during the past months and is now in a position where he can find people to introduce him to almost anyone he wants to connect to in the startup scene in Switzerland. He just recently asked for an introduction to a CEO of a fast growing startup company in Switzerland through a fairly new contact.
He first connected with this fairly new contact a few months ago on LinkedIn, then emailed a few times and went for lunch with him in Switzerland during one of his trips there.
Of course, his contact was very happy to introduce him and forwarded his email to the CEO right away.
Do Your Research
Even before you connect with anyone on LinkedIn, you want to do proper research. This can be as easy as going through somebody’s LinkedIn profile or as extensive as reading somebody’s book and watching his on-stage performance on Youtube at a keynote speech.
Make sure that you put in the effort to do the research that is needed for you to be genuinely interested in somebody. This will make it much easier for you to connect with somebody based on similar values, a passion or interests. The relationship you start this way will be much more likely to take off if you do the research.
Search for the person on Google, LinkedIn, Youtube, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and see if any of your LinkedIn connections know this person already.
The Basics of Connecting on LinkedIn
Before you can follow up properly, you need to do your homework and send a connection request in a way that the person you are sending it to is going to accept it.
The most important things to remember about the connection request are the following:
- Send a personalized message
- Never use the standard LinkedIn message
- Mention a very good reason for connecting
- Be clear with your intention and to the point
- Avoid asking any questions
If you follow these points, most people will be very happy to accept your connection request. Once you have mastered this challenge, it’s time to follow up.
When to Follow up
I suggest you check your emails regularly and when you receive the email from LinkedIn that the person you wanted to connect to accepted your request, you follow up immediately before you forget it in the daily business. There is no reason to wait for a few days.
3 Steps to Craft a Powerful Follow up Message
Now comes the challenging part of creating that powerful message. It’s not that difficult if you follow a few principles and have some creative skills.
1. Thank You
First, you want to thank them for accepting your connection request. This is not only important so that you are polite but also because it’s easy to forget about somebody who connected to you on LinkedIn. This way you remind the person how you initially got connected.
2. Why Are You Interested in Connecting?
Now you can mention something that you have found in your research. Why are you interested in connecting with this person? If the answer is “Because I want to get a job at this company” or “Because he can introduce me to a hiring manager” you may want to re-think your approach.
Before you can receive, you have to give first. This is a fundamental principle. It does not mean that you have to buy them football tickets or even do something directly for them.
In many cases, being an interesting individual to hang out with or having your own strong opinion is enough of value to provide for the other person.
3. What Do You Want Them to Do?
Now it’s time for your call to action. If you want something to happen you have to ask for it.
This can be a simple question about their career in Switzerland, an offer to have a phone conversation, lunch, coffee or anything else that suits the level of trust you have already established.
I usually recommend to ask for something very small in the first message like a question about how the person found their job in Switzerland, when they relocated or how many times per week they find time to go sailing as they mentioned it as a passion on their LinkedIn profile.
3 Example Follow up Messages
To illustrate the three steps outlined before, let me give you a few examples here.
Thank you for accepting my connection request.
I saw that you work at company X and I recently read about the planned expansion to the Middle East. It must be exciting to work at such a fast growing company.
How did you initially get that interesting job at company X?
Thanks for accepting my LinkedIn request.
I recently stumbled upon your book about Lean Management that you published on Amazon and very much enjoyed reading it. I very much agree with X and Y and I have experienced very similar situations. How did you come up with the idea of writing a book?
Thanks for accepting my connection request on LinkedIn.
You must be very busy at company X with the new launch of product Y as I saw that you are working in this department as the head of product innovation. I saw that your native language is Spanish. I am originally from Portugal and looking to relocate to Switzerland. How did you initially find your first job in Switzerland?
Follow up – Take 2
If you are following the principles of providing value, giving first and being authentic in your message, you will have a high response rate with those messages you send out.
However, many people are busy, not everybody is always on LinkedIn and sometimes, a message simply gets skipped. It’s on you to keep track of your efforts and plan what to do if you don’t hear back from somebody.
I suggest you plan to send a second follow up message 1-2 weeks after the first one. If you did proper research about the company and the person, you will likely be able to come up with something to write about.
You could congratulate them to the successful product launch, comment on an update the person made on LinkedIn, congratulation them for their birthday (well, only if it’s actually their birthday of course) or find other creative ways to craft a second follow up message.
It’s Your Turn
It’s always on you to follow up. Never expect that somebody will simply write back because you asked them a question.
People are busy and your message needs to stand out. If you are mentioning a great reason why you are genuinely interested in connecting with the person and be authentic, you will stand out.
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