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Rules for Engagement: How to Build Your Connections

EACE Blog contribution by Bless Vaidian, Pace University Career Services and Founder, Career Transitions Guide


This month I gave a workshop on LinkedIn and shared my set of ‘rules for engagement’ and how to build your connections.  Follow these 5 tips if you are looking to expand your network, find a job lead, get answers to your questions, or simply looking to connect with leaders in your interest category. Using LinkedIn the wrong way can annoy others or even cause your profile to be flagged. Every week individuals from all over the world and in various stages of their career try to connect with me on social media. Remembering these simple rules of courtesy can help to build your professional circle and also brand yourself in your field.

1)   Give a Reason

You have to state what the common bond is when asking to be added as a connection.  Most people will respond if you write a personal note and answer the question ‘why’ you are looking to add them. Always send a message detailing what you have in common, and never settle for the LinkedIn default message. This can only be a few lines since LinkedIn limits the number of characters you can use in your message. The key is to make your few words count. 

2)   Don’t be Random

Never send invites to ‘anyone and everyone’ with no meaning. Purposefully outreach to individuals related to your career goals, at your target companies, that are well connected, or whom you value as an expert. Having a circle of relevant connections is of more value than mere numbers. If you do not know the reason why someone should add you to their circle, then do not even bother sending an invite. If you are looking to simply build numbers, then outreach to recruiters at staffing firms or alumni and staff from your college.

3)   Do Unto Others

If you see a contact is working on a project, raising money for a cause, or looking for assistance; offer your help freely. Networking is about building relationships, and not taking from others. I am often getting job leads emailed to me. Leads follow people that know how to volunteer their time and resources because they become respected and valued.

4)   Requires Maintenance

Stay at the forefront of your network’s Linkedin home-page by emailing, ‘liking’, or commenting on their posts after you add your connection.  Over time this will help you build a bond with individuals and get profile recognition. Adding connections lets you connect with their extended network as well.

5)   Ask for a Meeting

For those contacts you value and respect, ask for a real-time conversation over the phone or even over coffee. Having people in your circle with common interests will also help to facilitate face-time at conferences or career related events and workshops.

Linkedin is a professional online networking site. You may never meet most of the individuals listed as a connection, but it is still a relationship you want to foster over the years. Start your targeted outreach to build your online presence this week but keep in mind the rules of engagement listed above.


vaidian-blessBless Vaidian has been in the career development, college recruitment, and higher education arena since 2000. Currently she holds several positions at Pace University: adjunct professor for Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, relationship manager for School of Education, and senior counselor for students from all six Pace schools of thought. In the past she held the label of Manager of Employer Relations, where she oversaw Pace University’s large 100+ employer career fairs and on-campus recruitment program.

In 2006 Bless started Career Transitions Guide, a private career-coaching firm. She is involved in volunteer activities within her community and is a member of many professional organizations. Currently Bless is leading the Mentoring Program for SHRM-Western, CT. She has conducted hundreds of workshops on topics related to job search, social media, and branding. Bless has been a grand prizewinner for international career blogging contests.

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