Would you walk up to a stranger at a business conference and say, “Hi my name is John, here’s my business card,” and walk away?
If someone approached you that way, you might:
1. Look at the card and think, this has nothing to do with me.
2. Look at the card and think this might help me, but I’m not going to work with that annoying person, who didn’t even take the time to get to know me first.
I recently met Theresa Thomas a presentation and etiquette trainer. She taught me that when you give someone your business card, you should ask if they want it first. Then, when you hand it to them, you hand it to them face up, right side up so they can read it.
What if we used the same approach on LinkedIn?
At the conference, the more likely networking scenario would be to say “hello” to someone you know and be introduced to the person they’re talking to. You would say, “Hi I’m John. Nice to meet you. How do you like the conference?” Or, “How do you know each other?” Or, “What are you drinking? I’ll have one of those.”
You’d ask about and listen to the work they do. And, before you leave, you say, “Here’s my business card.” (or “Can I give you my business card?” according to our etiquette expert). “I’d be happy to send you that case study.” — that you suggested earlier might help them in their work.
Now, looking at networking on LinkedIn, try to do the same.
For the better impression, get to know a person first, just like in the conference scenario before you send them an InMail or message. Present yourself with dignity to them, face-up, right side up.
On LinkedIn, you can’t have an in-person conversation with prospects, but you can learn a lot about them on LinkedIn and online, before giving them your digital business card (LinkedIn Profile), and sending them a value-centered, personalized invitation to connect.