Connecting with strangers isn't a social faux pas on sites like LinkedIn, where linking with would-be mentors and clients is commonplace, but etiquette still applies. J.T. O'Donnell, founder and CEO of career support site Work It Daily, is used to receiving invitations to connect from strangers and has noticed one common mistake.
"The rookie mistake I see many people making when networking on LinkedIn is asking for help too soon," she writes in an article for Inc. "Just because someone agreed to connect with you doesn't mean they're ready to do you any favors."
O'Donnell says there is a right and wrong way to start a conversation with a new contact. "When you seek assistance in your career without first establishing trust and respect, you'll find new connections quickly disconnecting or even blocking you from their account," she says. Her biggest pet peeve is messages that open with phrases like, "I see you've worked at ABC Inc. for five years. I've always wanted to work there. Would you be able to introduce me to the hiring manager?"
There's nothing wrong with leveraging new connections to help your career, but she says it's important to build a relationship first. Instead, she recommends flipping the scenario and thinking about how you might be of service to them. Do you share a mutual connection? Can you introduce them to a business lead from your network? "Be smart and focus on developing lasting relationships—your career will thank you!"