6 Business Etiquette Tips When Using LinkedIn

Let’s face it, social media has transformed the way we do business and connect with others. Chances are, you have a presence on at least one social media site, right? And if you’re in a professional role, you likely have a LinkedIn account. Whether you are new to LinkedIn or a regular user, it’s important to adhere to the rules of proper business etiquette, just as if you were rubbing shoulders at in-person networking events.

With the help of several leading experts in their fields, Robert Half has compiled business etiquette tips for the digital age. Among them are six tips to help you make a positive impression on LinkedIn:

1. Prioritize quality over quantity.

Network envy can make some people try to connect aimlessly with others just to build their number of contacts. Don’t invite strangers with whom you have nothing in common merely to make your network larger, and don’t be offended when those you’ve never met or vaguely know ignore your requests. Your network is only as strong as its weakest connection.

2. Think twice before you say yes.

When members of your network request introductions to your other contacts, hold off before you immediately agree, particularly if you’re not that familiar with the person making the request. You may think it’s bad business etiquette, but your reputation is on the line if your contact ends up becoming a nuisance to people in your network. 

3. Request recommendations individually.

A generic message asking all of your connections to recommend you may fall on deaf ears. To get the most out of your recommendation requests, be targeted and specific. Identify parameters for each individual you approach, such as a particular service you offered, a job you’ve held (if you’ve been in the position for at least six months) or a project you completed (especially if you are a temporary or consulting professional).

Thankfully, giving skills endorsements is much easier than writing recommendations. It takes just one click! But avoid endorsing people simply for the sake of expecting one in return. Ask for — and reciprocate — endorsements only if you really feel there’s merit. Remember, while a higher number of endorsements can add credibility to your LinkedIn profile, it’s not a popularity contest. 

4. Make the connection clear.

Too often, people connect without thinking. When seeking to make a new contact, it’s just good business etiquette to remind a person of how you know him or her if it has been a while since you’ve talked. For example, you might reference a recent conference you both attended instead of using the generic message that prepopulates within LinkedIn invitations. It only takes two seconds and can prevent your request from being ignored.

5. Make a big impact with small gestures.

Pay attention to what people are discussing online or projects they are working on. You can offer helpful suggestions, send useful articles, forward relevant job openings or just leave comments, letting those in your network know they are heard and understood. You also can share insights and offer introductions to others. This may take you 45 seconds of effort but could have a profound impact on the people with whom you wish to develop closer professional relationships.

6. Act quickly on requests.

Patience is a virtue, but not everyone possesses it. Respond to requests that come via your network promptly — within 24 hours, if possible.

Download Robert Half’s free guide Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age to get more online business etiquette tips and learn what to do in sticky situations. And share your etiquette tips in the comments section below.