Lately I’ve been getting a lot more requests from to conduct LinkedIn Networking Workshops for B2B sales teams. It seems companies and organizations are finally waking up to the fact that LinkedIn is so much more than an online resume collection. At the same time I’m seeing an uptick in really bad LinkedIn networking attempts. So today I wanted to take a few minutes to share three simple tips that I usually reserve for our LinkedIn Workshops.

If you’d like to hear more tips, you can always request a LinkedIn Workshop for your company. In the meantime, enjoy these simple starters.

How Not To Network On LinkedIn

For the love of God please stop sending the standard, LinkedIn connection requests. As soon as I see, “Hi, I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn Network” I hit delete. It’s a pavlovian thing. When you send the standard LinkedIn connection message you’re basically telling me that you don’t really want to connect, you’re just trying to build your rolodex or worse, you’re a salesperson and you’ve got something to sell me.

Take the time to personalize the message. I’m not asking you to write War & Peace, but write something. Even if you just pick something out of the person’s LinkedIn profile or I don’t know, maybe take a second to check out their company, their Twitter profile or any of the information folks often connect to their LI profile. If at all possible, consider crafting something truly creative that rewards the prospective connection with a good laugh or something in exchange for reading your request to connect. The photo for this post is an actual LinkedIn Request sent to Ann Handley — you can read her entire post here and see if she accepted the connection.

And lastly, while we’re on this subject, don’t ever try to connect with someone you don’t know via the LinkedIn mobile app. When you click the connect button on the mobile app, it automatically uses the standard LI connection message. You can’t change it or personalize it. It’s a HUGE oversight in my opinion, but till they change it, you’re better off just using the mobile app to connect with folks you actually have met in real life.

Using In-Mails

If you’re serious about using LinkedIn to network more effectively, pony up for one of the paid versions. One of the great benefits of the paid version is In-Mails. These are a much better, less spammy and more effective way to reach out to folks on LinkedIn that you don’t currently share connections, groups or anything with yet. Also, LinkedIn guarantees that these emails will be opened and read. If they are not, then LI gives you a credit back for that In-Mail. So you either make a connection or you get a freebie.

I’ve used these extensively to reach folks and honestly, if you get a little creative with it, they can be surprisingly effective at opening doors. So quit being cheap and buy the access to the tools that give you an edge in LinkedIn networking.

Membership Has It’s Privileges

And on LinkedIn one of the privileges of joining LinkedIn Groups is that you get to email or connect with folks that are not 2nd or 3rd degree connections to you without having to resort to spam tactics or In-Mails. So if there is a prospect you really want to meet, check out their group memberships. Then go see if they are just a member or actually active in those groups.

If they’re active, join and get active yourself. Take the opportunity to engage them in conversation via comments on content that is published to the group. Make a point of getting to know them a bit. THEN when you go to connect, by indicating you’re in a shared group, you can reference back to some of those conversations and increase the likelihood they’ll accept your connection request. Even if they’re not active or you’ve not been able to strike up a conversation with them, by simply joining the same group they are in you still open the email connection access channel. But here again, write something meaningful. Tell them what’s in it for them (WIIFT) when you ask to connect.

So there you go, three simple tips to improve your LinkedIn networking. Give them a try and if you have any to add yourself, let me hear them in the comments.

And CLICK HERE if you’d like to learn more about our LinkedIn Workshops or Social Selling Workshops.

photo credit to MarketingProfs

Read more: Building A Huge LinkedIn Network