In his blog post last week, my friend Rob Ewanow explained one of the core principles I wholeheartedly endorse when asking someone to connect on LinkedIn. Effective networking must embrace a “give-to-get” mindset. If you’re not willing to help someone you’re hoping to connect with, why would they want to connect with you?
How does that other person know you’re willing to help? Tell them! It really is that simple. And, it takes just seconds to do. Is the person you’re trying to connect with not worth a few seconds of your time?
In my various presentations and training classes that cover LinkedIn, customizing your LinkedIn invitations is always one of my primary tips. LinkedIn only wants you to connect with people you know. Granted, many people ignore this “rule” but if enough complaints are made against you for inviting people you don’t know, your account can be suspended.
LinkedIn will allow you to customize your invitations with a personal note when you attempt to connect by clicking:
- Add (member’s name) to your network on their profile.
- The Connect link from the People You May Know module.
- The Add to Network link from search results.
When you’re creating your invitation, make sure you designate how you know the person (colleague, classmate, we’ve done business together, friend, groups, other). Then, as Rob suggests, explain how connecting would be mutually beneficial. Or better yet, limit your personal note to how you can help the person you’re trying to connect with.
Even when people customize their invitations to connect with me, if I haven’t met them in person or have had extensive interaction with them otherwise, I will request we meet in person. That’s my own little rule of thumb which I’ve chosen to implement. Interestingly, less than 20% of all LinkedIn connection requests I receive will respond to my invitation to meet in person! Of those who do, less than half will actually schedule and keep our meeting. I value those in my network and this is my “quality check” before I open that network to someone new. It’s not 100% fool-proof, but it’s more than most people do.
If you’re receiving too many LinkedIn requests and/or from people you don’t know, you can change your settings to require those attempting to connect with you to know your email address. To learn more about how to change your settings, visit the LinkedIn help page.
Do you customize your connection requests on LinkedIn? How do you process requests from others when they’re not personalized?