How to Set Up a LinkedIn Introduction

When you want to send an introduction request, spend some time planning your request before you log on to LinkedIn to generate and send it. Preparing a quality and proper introduction goes a long way toward keeping your network in a helpful and enthusiastic mood, and it increases your chances of making a new and valuable connection.

You need to prepare two messages: one for your intended recipient and one for your connection/friend. Each message needs to perform a specific objective. Start with the message to your friend, and keep the following tips in mind when you're writing it:

  • Be honest and upfront. Say exactly what you hope to achieve so there are no surprises. If you tell your friend that you're hoping her contact will be a new bowling buddy for you, but when you reach that contact, you ask for funding for your new business plan, you're in trouble.

    Your friend will probably never forward another request again, and the contact, who expected one type of interaction and got another, will see you as untrustworthy and be unlikely and/or unwilling to help on this request or any in the future.

    Even if your eventual goal is something big, such as asking someone for a job, start with an initial goal that is reasonable, such as asking for information or advice. Let the other person know that you would like to keep talking to see what possibilities might occur in the future.

  • Be polite and courteous. Remember, you're asking your friend to vouch for you or back you up when your request goes to the intended party. So be polite when making your request and show your gratitude regardless of the outcome.

  • Be ready to give in order to get. One of the best ways to go far with your network is to offer some sort of reciprocal favor when you want someone to do a favor for you. Perhaps you can introduce your friend to one of your other contacts in exchange for your friend accepting your introduction request.

  • Be patient. Although you might be eager and under a deadline, your friends probably operate on different schedules driven by different levels of urgency. Some people are online all the time, other people log in to LinkedIn infrequently, and most people are completely disconnected at times, like when they're on vacation or behind on a project.

    Asking your friend every day whether she forwarded your request is an almost sure-fire way of getting that request bounced back to you.

When writing your message to your intended recipient, keep these tips in mind:

  • Be honest and upfront. Make your specific goal known in the message. The recipient is most likely busy and doesn't know you, so if he spends the time to talk to you and finds out that you have an ulterior motive, he feels like his time was wasted and that he was deceived, which are not good feelings to create when trying to get help from someone.

  • Be succinct. You're asking someone for his time, resources, or advice, so don't beat around the bush. Introduce yourself in your first sentence or two. Then explain why you're contacting the recipient and how you hope he can help you.

  • Be original. When you customize your message, you have a greater chance of capturing the other person's attention. If your intended recipient gets a lot of requests, you'll stand out if you show some effort to rise above the daily noise this person encounters.

  • Be ready to give in order to get. You're asking for help of some sort, so again, be ready to give something, whether it's gratitude, a reciprocal favor, or something more tangible. Most people are eager to help, especially when they understand the situation, but having something to offer in exchange rarely hurts. Explain to your recipient how you might provide something useful in return.

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