To connect or not to connect on LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become a main networking location to connect with other job seekers, hiring managers, recruiters, business owners and others you feel will benefit you. But, as with everything, there is a certain protocol or etiquette to connecting and building a business relationship.

These rules make sense whether you’re a job seeker, or a business owner looking for a complimentary business partner. Once you have an interview or you’ve scheduled a business meeting, it makes sense to look the person or people you’ll be interviewing or meeting with on LinkedIn. It also makes sense to view the company profile on LinkedIn. You can never be over-prepared.

When your interview or meeting is over, follow-up is important. But how you follow-up will make the difference between a potential next interview and being offered the job, or for a business owner, whether you’ll be forging a business relationship.

In addition to a follow-up phone call or email, you might be inclined to connect through LinkedIn. Let’s say you’ve exchanged business cards. I wouldn’t make the assumption you can connect with that person unless they specifically have you given you permission to do so.

But that’s my opinion as a small business owner. I wanted to find out how some of my connections on LinkedIn felt

One of my recruiting contacts told me connecting right away wasn’t a good idea. A candidate of theirs sent a LinkedIn request to connect within an hour after the initial interview. The client called the recruiter and said they couldn’t put a finger exactly on why, but it made them uncomfortable and they ruled the candidate out because of that connection request. That request probably came across as too informal and/or pushy.

Another recruiting contact said that it was okay to connect after a decision had been made on who was being hired for the specific opportunity even if he job seeker wasn’t the one hired. That way the job seeker could be kept in mind for future opportunities and could also serve as a referral to others they might know of for other opportunities.

I usually gauge whether to connect based on how the interview goes. If I feel I’ve developed a good rapport with the person, I’ll ask about connecting with that person and others at the company.

You should definitely ask during the interview or interviews whether it would be ok to connect on LinkedIn. Your decision could also depend on the company culture

Imagine two different situations:
1) One candidate being upfront about connecting on LinkedIn and was very practical/professional/objective about it with the hiring manager.

2) One candidate who never mentioned about connecting on LinkedIn and then suddenly sent an Invite to the hiring manager on LinkedIn after the interview.

If you are the hiring manager who encountered the above candidates, which one would give you a better impression of professionalism? integrity? character?

I see LinkedIn as a means to connect with others with like careers, business interests, etc. It’s a professional networking tool. You’ve just met with and divulged a large amount of information about yourself and your company to a prospective client, hiring manager or business owner so they’re not really a “stranger”. And the whole point is that you’ve just met with someone in the same industry you are interested in. That person can always ignore or decline the invitation. They have more to base that decision on after you’ve just spent time telling them all about yourself. There’s a fine line between “pushy” and taking initiative in a tough market.

No matter you decide to do, personalize your connection request – thanking them for their time and mentioning why you’d want to connect. That way you differentiate yourself from others. Never, never use the generic ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network’ message. Add something like ‘It was nice meeting you to discuss the job opportunity at (company). I know I’d be a great ‘fit’ for the company (fill in).

Once you connect, your work isn’t done. Make sure to send your new connection a message through LinkedIn thanking them for connecting and reminding them about your skills. An example, ‘Thanks again for accepting my connection request and for meeting with me. Let me know if there’s anything else you need from me.’

These messages in those last two paragraphs can serve as template of sorts.

Have a great day!

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