The Art of Introducing People on LinkedIn

So often what you learned growing up will help you in the professional world.

One of my mom’s rules was if I wanted to invite a friend over, I had to ask my mom in private, without the friend being part of the conversation.

Why? In case my mom needed to say no, it wouldn’t create an awkward moment.

The same logic applies to introducing people in your network to each other. Ask each one, privately and separately, if it’s okay to make the introduction.

This is what David Burkus refers to as “permission introductions” in a great Harvard Business Review article called The Wrong Way to Introduce People Over Email. The right way is also called a “double opt-in introduction.”

As you reach out individually, give context and background for the request. Share with each person why you think they’d benefit from knowing each other. Include your thoughts on how they might be able to help one another.

Connecting people across your network is another important part of being savvy in social media as you build your professional reputation.

Here are some of the reasons I’ve introduced people recently:

For career advice for members of my team, I’ve introduced them to relevant people in my network at the company (note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own).

For information about a marketing leadership development program I lead with colleagues in HR, I introduced an employee interested in the program to a current participant in the program.

For paying it forward to current students at the USC Annenberg School, I arranged a series of informational meetings with colleagues who shared their career paths and what they do in the current jobs.

Once you have the green light from each person, you can make an introduction via email inside your company or use the share profile feature in LinkedIn for people outside the company. Using LinkedIn includes contact info, so it’s easy for people to connect.

Include a compelling, complimentary and descriptive line or two about each person. Hyperlink to anything helpful or noteworthy about each person. Add why they’d benefit from meeting each other. One of my colleagues Anthony Robbins is especially good at this.

Make the immediate next step easy and clear. The more junior person – generally the one gaining the most from the introduction – should take the next step of finding a time on the other person’s calendar, without creating extra work for that person.

Be kind to your network by not suggesting too many introductions in a short period of time. Space them out by at least a few months. If there’s more than one introduction you want to make to the same person, prioritize the most important one first.

And some introductions should never be made. You don’t want to waste the time of people in your network or take advantage of their goodwill. Your credibility and reputation will suffer as a result.

Don’t introduce:

  • A job candidate without at least a 70% match with the job description to the hiring manager
  • A salesperson you don’t know well to business decision makers in your network
  • Anyone who isn’t clear why they’re requesting to be introduced to someone in your network.

Given the importance of reciprocity, be open to introductions that people in your network suggest to you. Make sure you’re clear on how you can help. And learn from others about what does and doesn’t work well in making introductions.

What are your best practices for making great introductions?

11 Engaging Topics for LinkedIn Status Updates

If a LinkedIn status update every weekday is ideal, how do you come up with enough engaging content?

Here are 11 simple content ideas. They can be tailored to reflect your goals for LinkedIn and your professional interests, as well as be easy to integrate into your day.

When you share content using these ideas, you can add your point of view. And you can engage your network by asking questions about their perspectives.

Here goes . . .

Your company’s employee advocacy program. More companies are enabling and empowering employees to share company news in their own personal social media through an employee advocacy program. If your company offers this, it’s an easy way to provide valuable content and be a brand ambassador for your employer.

Your professional associations. What organizations do you belong to? Where do you look for training and development? You’ll often find the latest thinking in your field that you can share with your network. A few of my favorites in corporate communications are the International Association of Business Communicators, the Public Relations Society of America and the Forum-Group for communications leaders.

Your favorite industry and career news sources. What are your go-to sources for news about your field or the world of work? On the top of my list are Harvard Business Review and Fast Company.

Your alma mater. Colleges and universities are helping their alums be lifelong learners. Have you checked out yours lately? As an alumni ambassador for the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, I’ve shared information about event content and information such as the Relevance Report.

Your colleagues’ content. What are people in company and your network posting? Keep an eye out for articles posted to LinkedIn that align with your goals and share those. A few of my favorites are by Carlos Botero, Rachel Ybarra and Jennifer Van Buskirk.

Books you’re reading. What’s on your Kindle or your nightstand that has a business and professional focus? Share what you’re reading and what you’re learning. For me it’s Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. It has two daily practices that would probably benefit everyone – note 3 things you did well and 3 moments that brought joy.

Conferences and events you’re attending. What virtual or in-person development activities are you involved in? What are you learning? Share your key takeaways in a status update. Include photos of the event and people you’re meeting.

What you’re learning. What’s your development plan to learn new skills this year? Are you taking online courses, pursuing a nanodegree or listening to podcasts and TED talks? Share status updates about what you’re learning and how you’re preparing for the future. Include your perspective on why these skills will be critical to the future of work, your industry and your employer.

Speaking engagements you’re doing. Anytime you’re speaking, whether it’s a conference or a webinar, it’s a great opportunity to post an update. Share your big idea or interesting questions people asked after your talk.

Key holidays. Look at the calendar each month and identify key events. May and June, for example, are big graduation months. You could share the best career advice you got at graduation or the most important thing you’ve learned since graduation. One of my posts that got great engagement was a leadership quote and a beautiful photo from iStockPhoto on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Keep an eye out for hashtag holidays – like #NationalMentoringMonth in January #GetToKnowYourCustomers day in July – and create posts about them.

Your blog. Do you have a blog about your profession and your industry? LinkedIn is a perfect place for a status update each time you post new content. If you’ve been blogging for a while, look through the archives to see what’s still timely. Your status update could include fresh information or a new take on the original post.

For the month of May, I’m going to conduct an experiment. I’ll further test these content ideas by posting a status update to LinkedIn on every workday of the month. That’s 22 status updates.

In future posts, I’ll share what I learn in the process about creating an editorial calendar, responding to comments, evaluating analytics, increasing engagement and more.

In the meantime, what would you add to this list of content ideas?