First, never send default invites
I estimate that I ignore 90% of invites from LinkedIn members, simply because they don’t include a personalized note. In fact, if I accepted all invites I’d probably have 10,000 connections in my LinkedIn network. This is not to brag; I’m just saying.
Why am I so adamant about people taking the time to personalize their invites? Short and simple, default invites suck.
The default invite on LinkedIn is: I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. While it clearly states a hopeful networker’s intent, I need more. Something that tells me why we should connect.
Sending the default invite is akin to going up to someone at a networking event and saying, “Hi. What can you do for me?” It’s insincere and sends the message, “I’m inviting you to be in my network, but I could care less if you join.” Is this the type of message you want to send to a potential networker?
I believe there are three reasons why LinkedIn members don’t personalize their invites.
One, they just don’t get it. Or they haven’t been educated. I can only spread the word to the people who attend my LinkedIn workshops or read my posts. Even then some don’t get it.
Two, they’re using their phone to connect with others on LinkedIn. Although there is a way to send a personalized invite from your phone, most people don’t know how to do it. The process is very simple, so there’s no excuse.
To send an invite from your phone, go to the person’s profile, click the three vertical dots for androids or horizontal dots for iPhones, choose “Personalize invite,” write one, and hit send.
Three, they’re plain lazy. I think this is really the heart of the matter, and I hesitate to say it, especially out loud; but in essence this is what it comes down to. To me, a default invitation is a statement of want without a sign of reciprocation. And this defies the true definition of networking.
I and others, I’m sure, are more likely to accept an invite if a thoughtful note is attached to it. So what should you write if you want someone to join your network?
1. You might have something in common with whom you’re trying to connect. “Hi Susan, I’ve been following your updates and feel that we have a great deal in common. Would you accept an invitation to be in my LinkedIn network?”
2. Maybe you’re the bold type. “Hey, Bob. You and I are in career development. Ain’t that cool? Let’s link up!” I like this confidence, despite the slang.
3. You might want to take the calculated approach. “After reviewing your profile, I’m impressed with its quality and your diverse interests.” A little flattery never hurts.
4. Inviting someone to be part of your LinkedIn network is a perfect way to follow up with that person after a face-to-face meeting. “Sam, it was great meeting with you at the Friends of Kevin networking event. I looked you up on LinkedIn and thought we could stay in touch.”
5. Boost the person’s ego. “Bob, I read one of your posts and thought it was spot on. I’d like to connect with you.” Or “Jason, I saw you speak at the Tsongas Arena and what you said really resonated with me. I’d like to follow up with you.”
These are some suggestions that would entice someone like myself to accept an invite. When I’m sent an invite, I only request a personalized note—it’s not that hard, really. So rather than just hitting the Send Invitation button, take a few seconds to compose something from the heart.
Second, thank people for inviting you to their network
Is there anything worse than sending a “cold,” “lazy,” “uninviting” default message to a potential connection? Yes, it’s not thanking people who invite you to their network. Come on, this goes against what your parents taught you when you were a child.
It just makes common sense. If you receive an invitation to be part of someone’s network, reply to the sender by thanking them for being considered. It’s an honor the sender has chosen you, so show your gratitude.
In effect, this is similar to walking away from a conversation at a social gathering. Would you simply walk away from a conversation without saying, “Thank you for the conversation?” Simply do an about face and make for the door? I would hope not.
What to Write. Your note can begin with, “Thank you for the invite. And thank you for the personalized message.” And if you want to carry on the conversation, you might add, “It would be great to talk about our common interests, as we’re both in (the occupation). I’d be happy to call you at your convenience.”
Also thank your new connection for joining your network. All too often LinkedIn members invite someone to their network and then kill the momentum by not showing their gratitude.
To make professional online networking effective, you must keep the ball in play, keep the lines of communication open. Extend civility and appreciation for someone joining your network.
“Thank you for being part of my network” would suffice. Or you may add, “I invited you to be in my network because we’re both (occupation) or (interested in) and think we can be of assistance to each other.”
Personalizing your invites and saying “Thanks” are two very basic, yet important components of developing a solid relationship with your LinkedIn network. LinkedIn gives you the option to do neither. Don’t let LinkedIn let you get lazy.
It takes but a few minutes to connect with someone on LinkedIn the right way.
Photo: Flickr, ruijiaoli
Photo: Flickr, Retroeric