Making the first move is a critical skill when applying for a new job or expanding your professional network. Reply-worthy direct messages are required to build your network effectively.
LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool for connecting with recruiters and other professionals. After all, LinkedIn InMail senders achieve a 300% higher response rate than those who reach out by email. Whether you’re changing careers or entering the workforce for the first time, effective direct messaging can make or break your chances for success.
The Subtle Art of Connecting with a Stranger by Sliding into Their Direct Messages
Sliding into someone’s DM describes the subtle technique of direct messaging someone you don’t know but with whom you want to make a connection. Notice the word “subtle.” The goal is to get attention and interest rather than go onto the offensive with a direct pitch or request. Tommy John (yes, THAT Tommy John) published an excellent blog post on this subject. It leans a little toward dating apps but acknowledges that the same techniques are effective for dating connections or professional networking.
Before you send that first direct message or slide into DMs, it’s essential to learn proper DM etiquette so that you can use this strategy to grow your network effectively.
How to Send a Professional DM
LinkedIn is technically a social media platform, so it can be treated like any other—right? Well, not exactly.
While it’s okay to be friendly and relational when starting a conversation on LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to air on the professional side when cold messaging someone. Remember, your professional credibility is on the line, and the quality of your message could be the difference between landing an interview and losing a connection. This topic is critical and is in the first point of the blog on Understanding the 7 Finer Points of Job Hunting.
Here are a few best practices for LinkedIn before you press send on that DM:
- Keep your profile updated. Anticipate that your DM recipients will check out your profile to get an idea of who you are. If it’s not updated, they may perceive you as less qualified than you are. Include a professional but friendly photo. As the adage says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
- Do your research. You’ll want to check out the individual’s company and personal profile before reaching out. Doing so will give you some valuable insight into what they care about and may even help you craft an initial message that delivers value to them.
- Personalize. Professionals receive several generic messages every day. Figure out something that you have in common with them and use that to entice a response.
- Keep it professional. The way you communicate on LinkedIn is an excellent indicator to employers and colleagues of how you’ll communicate in the workplace. If you’re too formal, too casual, or even potentially inappropriate, your chances of forming that connection could go out the window.
- Keep it short. Professionals are often operating in a time crunch. As much as you may want to tell your life story in your first direct message, it’s best to be concise and condense your main point into a couple of sentences.
What to Avoid When Sending a DM
Just as there are best practices for connecting with professionals, there are also some behaviors to avoid.
- Steer clear of emojis. It’s great to want to come across as friendly and energetic when networking, but emojis are not the way to do that. Using emojis can easily be misunderstood as an inability to communicate professionally, losing you a connection.
- Don’t make demands. Remember that the people you’re reaching out to don’t owe you anything. If you sound too pushy in your first communication with them, it may turn them off to helping you in the future.
- Don’t be a bother. If you receive no reply after following up, it’s probably time to give the person some space. Walking away from a turndown is better than annoying a potential future connection and getting blocked by them.
Sending the perfect DM may take some trial and error, and that’s okay! Just remember to speak to others how you want to be spoken to and learn from your mistakes. Whether you’re at home in your pajamas (or your Tommy Johns) or at the office, you can come across as a valuable addition to someone’s network by sending a quality DM.
Are you looking for more guidance? Check out Tommy John’s infographic for some templates to guide you as you build the perfect reply-worthy DM.
At Goodwin Recruiting, we build our success on personal relationships. By learning how to grow your network with reply-worth direct messaging, you can too!