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Last week on "Ask J.T. Anything," I was asked about the right way to customize a connection request on LinkedIn. I'm a big believer in customizing every, yes EVERY, connection request. So much so, I wrote this post on LinkedIn to give you seven different ways to do it. So, no excuses!

#1 Thing You Should NEVER Ask In A Connection Request

While there are many ways to ask to connect, here's the one thing you should never ask for: free services. The video above explains exactly why this is big no-no. Think of it this way... You've never met this person and you want to start networking with them. The secret to networking is to give, not take. If your very first interaction with a stranger is you asking them to do something for you, what kind of message does that send? You would never walk up to a stranger at a networking event and say, "Hi, I'd like to talk to you. We haven't met, but I want you to do something for me." Then, why do it when you are sending a LinkedIn connection request?

First Step: Earn Their Trust & Respect By Doing This...

The key to good customized connection request is to explain to them what you admire about them. What is it about their experience or skills that you identify with? Show the common bond you share and politely ask them to connect. [Again, this post shows you seven ways to accomplish this.] Once they've agreed to connect, then you can start a dialog. But, I warn you - just because they accepted doesn't give you permission to ask them for free services. You are better off starting a discussion of shared interests so you can get to know each other better. In the same way you have conversations at in-person networking events, you must do this online. I suggest sending the person an article that you think they might find of interest and seeking their thoughts. Once you get to know each other, then it may (or may not) make sense to ask for help. Just take it slow and be professional.

Want More Help? Try This…

For anyone reading this who wishes they could work with someone to make sure their LinkedIn profile is optimized properly, I invite you to check out CAREEREALISM’s sister site, CareerHMO. For the cost of a couple of lattes, you can get access to the best coaching, content and community available to advance your career. At CareerHMO, we take your career personally. Come see what we can do for you.
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