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LinkedIn Connection Requests: Take 5 to personalize

I have blogged many times about LinkedIn etiquette, focusing on do’s and don’ts. If you really want to comb through some fantastic articles about LinkedIn etiquette, you should check out Stacy Donovan Zapar’s blog as she is far more skilled and knowledgeable about LinkedIn than I will ever be! However, the purpose of this post is not so much to add to or amend my general thoughts on LinkedIn etiquette, but more to focus on one particular area that can either make or break your ability to enhance your LinkedIn presence and personal brand.

I want to provide some advice on the use of LinkedIn invitation connection requests. As the popularity/use of LinkedIn grows exponentially each day, it is important to make sure that you are using it properly and setting yourself up for success. In my line of work, I receive numerous LinkedIn requests each week. Some are from people I have met before, perhaps in previous jobs or at industry events. More often than not, these requests are accompanied by a personal greeting that encourages the LinkedIn connection. I equate these types of requests to a soft sell – I know the person, the person knows me, we have connected in real life before and it is obvious why the connection request was sent. Therefore, the amount of information in the request email could be very minimal; however, I find that these individuals typically take more time in their email requests to personalize and context things. This is not only appreciated, but it is a valuable approach to building your brand and marketing yourself on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn contactsI probably receive just as many requests from people I have never met before – and this is OK too. In fact, I love receiving requests from people that have posted articles in various LinkedIn groups, perhaps they have commented on a blog post of mine, or I commented on their blog. Often I hear from people who have commented on articles I have shared or discussions I have started in a group (or vice-versa). I have typically found that these folks take the time to personalize their LinkedIn request email too. They often reference the LinkedIn group or article they saw and request to connect based on shared interests, industry, profession, etc.

My point being, I ALWAYS accept the above mentioned invites. Someone has taken the time to craft a personalized email because they wish to connect – based on some professional or industry related rationale. I do the same thing when wanting to connect with others, so this type of approach resonates with me. A quick caveat here – if someone reaches out to connect on LinkedIn to connect for the sole purpose of selling me something (especially if they have not personalized the message), AND we have never met/spoken before, I will not accept. To me, that is a lazy sales approach – pick up a phone and call, don’t sell to me via email/LinkedIn.

So, as you have probably figured out, I very rarely accept LinkedIn invites when I don’t know the person AND I get the canned LinkedIn message, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” I do, however, often reach out to the requestor if it is somewhat obvious what the ‘connection’ may be. In other words, if the person is an HR professional, works in the same industry, is looking for work the same industry that my company competes in, etc. I will respond with the “Reply, but do not accept” button and I will inquire as to the reason for the connection. At this point in time, I often get some great responses/insight and I am happy to connect. You would also be just as amazed (or dismayed?) at how many people fail to respond to this email I send back – and then my decision is easy as I never accept these invites.

So my advice is simple – you should ALWAYS personalize your LinkedIn connection request. Take 5 minutes and craft up a simple message – you will be amazed at the results. Never rely on the LinkedIn canned email wording. In my experience, there are two groups of people on LinkedIn that use the standard request language – individuals who are in the business of spamming and artificially inflating their LinkedIn connections so they can expand their 3rd degree network connections, OR folks new to LinkedIn that just don’t know any better. My advice is targeted to the latter group. We all had to start out somewhere on LinkedIn. It takes time to grow your network but you have to give yourself the best possible chance to do this. So if you, or someone you know, is starting out on LinkedIn and isn’t taking 5 minutes to personalize connection requests, pass this article on to them – it may just help their acceptance rate. It is important to know that with LinkedIn’s User Agreement (or should I say, enforcement of) if you send out too many connection requests that are not accepted, you may have your account restricted and will need to make a few adjustments to get that removed.  Again, Stacy Donovan Zapar wrote a great post recently on the types of restrictions that may be applied by LinkedIn – you should check it out.

So here is what you need to do – when you click on someone’s profile, and then decide to invite them to connect, select how you know them, then go to the box where it reads, “Include a personal note (optional).” Delete, the text that is there, (“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”), and take 5 minutes to craft a personal note. Try something like:

“Hi Susan, I came across your profile on LinkedIn the other day. I really enjoy your blog postings/LinkedIn articles, etc. and find them helpful in my role. I was hoping, as HR professionals, we could also connect on LinkedIn. Thanks for considering my request.”

Never, ever, send a connection request and use the canned “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” A personal note, in this case, is NOT optional – think of it as mandatory in order to make the connection. The 5 minutes you spend to personalize a note will make all the difference in the world as you grow your professional network and expand your LinkedIn reach.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback and wish you the best with your connection acceptance rate!

Photo credit: Brett Farmiloe

Use of photo does not imply endorsement of blog by B. Farmiloe

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3 Responses

  1. I enjoyed this blog Scott and will check out Stacy Donovan Zapar’s blog as recommneded. I admit that I am guilty of being of the group of folks new to LinkedIn that just don’t know any better. My rationale for the connection has been if the person is an HR professional, works in the same industry, has written something on a group forum I enjoyed, or because I am looking for work the same industry, but I have not been clever enough to personalize my request to build my brand. I appreciate the tip and have already tried it out once today since reading this blog!

    • Hi DeNeen – thanks for commenting, I appreciate the feedback. Glad the tips could help you out. I do know many folks struggle with LinkedIn etiquette which is why I have blogged many times about it. Hopefully the tips will help you out. Much of what you mentioned (i.e. re. your rationale) you should build into your connection request – trust me, you will have a lot of success this way!

  2. […] times about proper LinkedIn etiquette on a variety of topics that can be found here , here, here, here, here and […]

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