I’m sure you are a wonderful person and you would bring great value to our newly minted relationship. You have a lovely profile and I can see you’ve established yourself quite well in the LinkedIn community….
…but I do not know you and I need to have a reason why I should.
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking tools around today. LinkedIn makes it incredibly easy to connect with other professionals in your current or potential fields and industries…almost to a fault. With the mere click of a button, you can request a connection to anyone who is either a 2nd or group connection away (without paying extra, that’s what Premium is for). However, that person will get a default message which says “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” if you don’t personalize your note.
This is the simplest way to use LinkedIn to add connections, but it is also the lousiest way (and rather annoying to the recipient as well). It has the same effect as the online job search. While applying online through company websites and job boards is the easiest way to submit your resume and supporting documents, it is the least effective because it is impersonal and shows how little the applicant cares about the company or the job because said applicant spent little to no time researching and making an effort to find a way in.
Unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t make it any easier to avoid this strategy, as its mobile app and website automatically send this message if you don’t take the precaution of taking extra steps to write a more personalized message.
If I get a default message, more often than not I will ignore that message (and the messenger). It is a telltale sign to me that this person doesn’t know how to network because they haven’t bothered to spend a few minutes crafting an inviting, intelligent reason for me to want to join them.
Networking, after all, is about connecting and finding commonality, which is the basis of any relationship, personal or professional. Taking the time to show you are invested in establishing a relationship is what separates those who success on LinkedIn (and, dare I say, in career satisfaction) and those who fail.
Of course, you can continue to invite people using the default message and be happy with your 10-20% success rate. Just keep in mind that people who accept your invitation are those who either a) want to balloon their numbers because they think it looks good on their profile and they just need to win that popularity contest or b) probably intend to use their connections (i.e. you) in ineffective networking ways as well (in other words, they’ll likely use you for short term gains).
So if you want to truly be effective in connecting the best way on LinkedIn, click on the person’s profile, then click on “Connect,” then “Add a Note” and spend a few minutes crafting a valuable statement to them. In this message, consider the following:
- Tell them why you are connecting with them
- Figure out a commonality and speak to the aspect that connects you together (i.e. you went to the same school, you are interested in their career path, you are seeking a specific piece of information found on their profile)
- Give them a reason to respond by opening up a conversation with a question or prompt for response (you should note that sometimes you might need to repeat yourself, as people will accept your invitation without responding to your question/prompt. Show some sincerity by asking it again in a message after you’re connected)
- Give them an out or another option. I am often impressed by people who request a reply from me to allow them to explain more fully why they are reaching out to me (since initial LinkedIn requests are very limited in space, creating communication via a reply allows further exposition and explanation)
As with the Golden Rule, do unto others what you would want to do unto you and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If you were them, would you respond to you? Would you accept yourself to your network based on your invitation?