McGovern suggests following up all new connections with a thank-you note and an expressed interest in getting to know that person. “Striking up a conversation should be easier because you can go to their profile and find a common dominator.”
Turner, the Blues hockey fan, calls himself a B2B marketing expert specializing in LinkedIn. He operates LinkedSelling.com and says there are a handful of ways to use the professional social network to turn yourself into a valuable top-of-mind contact rather than the guy at a networking event with crumbs on his face.
“It’s about follow-up. You should be posting status updates, bits of information about projects you are working on, [that can create] ways for your contacts to see your name and content on regular basis,” Turner says.
Of course, staying on the radar differs from getting in someone’s face with a sales pitch — another LinkedIn no-no. You don’t want to be that person shoving a business card at someone without saying hello.
“Use LinkedIn to build rapport. Build a relationship and then move that towards business,” Turner says. “On LinkedIn, too many [contacts] go straight for jugular.”
Nicole Williams, a career expert with LinkedIn, agrees. She recommends at least one online conversation before asking for anything and when doing so, positioning it as a win-win.
Allyson Lipnack of Creative Business Promotions of South Florida says she made the potentially offensive mistake of putting out a sales pitch for her promotional products. Realizing the mistake, she began posting examples of trendy promotional products she had supplied to targeted individuals who might be planning similar events. “I’m appearing as more of a consultant to help them with their needs.”
Endorsements have become an easy way to contribute to your LinkedIn contacts, but you need to heed etiquette around this as well. Go to someone’s profile, click a few boxes, maybe click a few plus signs — done. You not only give them a virtual pat on the back, you may also help them show up in search results.
Of course, it may lead to some awkwardness. “If someone chooses to endorse you, there’s no pressure to reciprocate,” Williams says. “People shouldn’t endorse someone they haven’t worked with.’’
After all, it’s not just their reputation, it’s yours that can be affected. Says Williams, “you are going to be brushed with the same feather so be careful with whom you are associated.”
Workplace columnist Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or worklifebalancingact.com.
A previous version of this story misstated the name of Josh Turner’s company.