Networking has become an inevitable part of career building.
It simply means establishing meaningful connections with unknowns aka strangers, eventually making them knowns and then friends.
Hence, as the first step, you can’t avoid interacting with strangers.
Since LinkedIn is one of the best platforms to build a good network, it becomes necessary to fight that fear/hesitation in interacting with strangers.
Below are the 7 actionable tips to help you initiate conversations with strangers on LinkedIn.
- Use names to grab attention
Names don’t just give identity. They give a sense of realization that the person matters.
This realization makes a person attentive.
Make your strangers feel that they matter by addressing them with their names (preceded by proper salutations if necessary).
No matter how complicated the person’s first name is, use it, without doing any spelling mistake. Like,
“Hi John, how are you?”
It increases the odds that John will revert back.
- Give your reasons for initiating conversation
A stranger would like to know why you are willing to interact with him/her.
Don’t just send, “Hi” or “Hi, How are you?” as your first message.
Specify your reason. The reason can be as simple as possible.
If you don’t find any specific reason, you can simply say,
- Be patient and wait for the reply
Usually, people are not quick in responses. Let them take their time and be patient for the reply.
Don’t bombard the person with back to back messages even if s/he has seen your message but hasn’t replied.
Send a polite follow-up message after 2-3 days, asking the person is it’s okay to discuss that topic which you’ve mentioned in your last message.
Again wait for the reply.
In 6 out of 10 cases, you’ll get a positive response. Rest of the 4 cases show that person is probably not interested in talking.
Not to worry, move on to next 10 🙂
- Do research before sending a response
Avoid being too formal or too informal at the beginning of your interaction. You don’t know about your strangers and their style of communication so you have to observe their responses and then respond.
Observe their selection of words, emojis (if they’re using), use of punctuation marks.
* “hey…..how are you?…”
* “Hey, how are you :)”
* “Hey, how’s u?”
* “Hey, How are you?”
* “Heyyy, how r u!”
All these sentences are saying one thing or the other about your stranger. You can consider 4th sentence as formal, maybe 2nd one too.
But it’s not necessarily true.
That’s why you need to pay attention to the initial exchange of messages.
To support your observations, observe the person’s profile, his/her content, the way s/he’s commenting on others’ content, you’ll gain clarity.
These can be trivial observations but they MATTER!
When you give importance to these trivial observations, eventually you’ll start giving importance to the person whom with you’re talking.
That importance replaces “stranger” with “known”.That importance forms the base of networking.
So, instead of underestimating it, invest your time in it.
- Ask questions to keep a conversation alive
End your response with a question to keep the conversation open.
To this message, Sam may reply,
It’s a dead end! Sam almost closed the scope of further conversation unless Joe asked another question in her next message. It also shows, Sam may not be interested in talking.
Don’t show this lack of interest at the beginning of any conversation.
Questions show our interest & enthusiasm. Use them in your favor.
If Sam’s reply is,
“Hey, Joe! I’m doing well. Glad you liked the post. I’m currently working as copywriting freelancer. What do you do?”
This response will keep the conversation alive.
Questions, in fact, RIGHT questions always work!
- Ask for favor only if you have offered some help
You don’t want to interact with every stranger with the sole purpose of expanding your network.
Do you? 😉
You want to interact with some strangers to get some job/work/career opportunity.
In that case, too, the person will be a stranger for you. The difference is, there you have a strong reason to begin the conversation.
Hence if you specify the reason in the first message (as mentioned in tip 2 above), you’ll look salesy as if you’re trying to sell a product desperately.
I’m associated with xyz.com. We provide SEO tools to SMEs. We offer a trial package of tools for 1 week. Would you like to give it a try?
“Say a big NO to these kinds of messages.
No one is stupid. Your appreciation in these messages is an attempt to equalize your need to fulfill your requirements.
Instead, reverse process this.
Before asking for any favor, add value.
Not any big favor. Just a small one is more than enough, ONLY IF it is a genuine attempt from your side. Like,
“Hi Sophia, How are you? I liked your last post. Thought to appreciate your insights through a message.
I saw your profile. I liked the way you have maintained it. May I give you a suggestion? I’ve read in many articles that a background image is must in LinkedIn profile. I’d suggest you to have one too. If you’d like I can design one for you. As I’m a graphic designer, I’d love to do it. Lemme know if you want to. And please be assured that it’ll be free of cost. Just can’t resist my designing genie, lol”
“Hi Sophia, How are you? I like your content. Thought to appreciate your insights personally. You’re doing great!
I can see that you’re really passionate about content marketing. I’m also passionate about the same. I’d love to exchange insights about the same.
I came across this article (article link) a few days back. They have mentioned some useful SEO tools to boost content. I think you’ll like it. Once you read it, you can lemme know.
We can have a discussion about the same. Nothing is a better source of learning that these kinds of discussions. Looking forward to hearing from you.
“Please pay attention to the use of the word “can” in the second message.
“You CAN lemme know”
“We CAN have a discussion”By using “can”, you’re not insisting.
You’re humbly asking. With the use of right words and an offer to help, you added real value. There is a very high probability that the person will revert back with a positive response.
Later on, you can ask for favor depending upon the connection you establish with that person.
But first, add value.
- Treat Your Stranger Like the Way You Wish to be Treated
This tip is the core of all of the above six tips. Whether you’re sending a greeting, offering something, asking for a favor, “Think Before you Ask”.
* You are also a stranger for many people.
* You won’t like to be sold in the first message!
* You won’t like to be greeted rudely!
* You won’t like to be asked for a favor at the beginning of a conversation!
* You won’t like to feel used!
* You won’t like to be given fake appreciation just to gain your attention!
Would you like to do the same with someone else?
Your answer to this question will lead you further.
Networking is no piece of cake.
Believe me it’s not. And I’m not saying this to discourage you.
I’m saying this to make you realize its value and what it takes to nail it. Because,
And no art is easy to learn. It takes time, persistent efforts and determination.
Same goes with networking.
Be ready to invest those efforts before expecting ANY result.
The first step begins with your genuine attempt to face your fear of beginning a conversation with any stranger.
So, what are you waiting for?
Get Set Go!
This article is contributed by Ashi Singhal and originally published on Linkedin Article
She is an analytics enthusiast who likes to analyze data, trends, and human behaviour. She is also a social media fanatic and highly ambitious girl who likes to work with startups and people for their branding and outreach. So, if you are struggling to balance the equation between you and your brand. Stay in touch with her on Linkedin or tweet @ashiwiz
He is a digital marketer and creator of Freaky SEO. He enjoys working with words, numbers and the complexities of search engines and their working. You can connect with him on Linkedin or tweet @ digitalverma. Do you have excellent ideas to share with netizens? Come write for us.