How many times have you seen this communication in your email Inbox?
* I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
* Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn.
And here's the kicker:
* You have no idea who the this person is
* You've never met this person one-on-one ever in your life
* The invitation and the person's LinkedIn profile is your only reference point
This post's inspiration emerges from an October 30, 2009 CNN.com article titled: Defriending Can Bruise Your Digital Ego. The article's author explains a LinkedIn user's disappointment after receiving being rejected by another LinkedIn member. The prospective connection's reply: "I only connect with people I know, and hopefully our paths will cross one day."
In my opinion, these types of LinkedIn rejections stem from more than just "I don't know you personally." From my own experience, I suspect that other factors came into play:
Reason #1: You Used the Standard LinkedIn Invitation Form Letter
The Problem. The boilerplate language of a every LinkedIn Invitation is a form letter. Trust me, why don't you just put up a big blinking sign that says: "Reject Me Now." Is this the best you can do? Are you really that busy that you sent me the exact, same text that you blasted out to probably 1,000 others! Perhaps I'm being overly judgmental, but my initial reaction is always here's someone who desperately wants that coveted LinkedIn status symbol: Connections = 500+ (versus my individual connection). Let me guess, you probably also have 10,000+ Twitter followers also ...
The Solution. Demonstrate why you want to personally connect. Define your purpose sincerely. Prove to me this connection is not all about you. In this case, you have to prove why this is actually "about me."
How often we forget (and yes, that includes yours truly) that social networking and social media is about building personal relationships and trust. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs are powerful communication tools that can help us initiate or build personal relationships. The mistake we make is thinking that these tools are substitutes for the relationship itself. I always remind myself that sitting at the other keyboard is another human being.
A Personalized LinkedIn Invite Example. One of the best LinkedIn Invitations I've ever received from someone I've never met went something like this: "Tony, I'm sending you a LinkedIn Invite because I've listened to / read your comments in LinkedIn Discussion Groups A, B, or C (sample comment or paraphrase went here). It appears we enjoy participating in and learning more about social media. It would be great to connect so we can exchange ideas in the future. Sincerely, A LinkedIn Member."
Now that's what I'm talking about! Show me that you've invested some time in getting to know me (and why a relationship will mutually benefit both of us). Sounds a lot like dating doesn't it? Well, it's probably because it is ...
Great Article Advice on Customizing a LinkedIn Invite from Jason Alba. Heather Huhman of Examiner.com wrote a great article titled: Customizing LinkedIn Invitations for Maximum Results. In this article, Huhman interviewed Jason Alba, author of "I'm on LinkedIn, Now What?? Alba's suggestions included the following 4 tips:
A) Customize the Invitation
B) Tell the Person Where You Know Them From
C) Tell the Person Why You Want to Connect
D) No Strings Attached
Reason #2: We Have No Previous Communication History Via Other Social Networks
The Problem. If I'm not currently following your activity or participation in Twitter, LinkedIn, or blogs, I have no frame of reference for who you are. Depending on the details of your LinkedIn Profile, it may not communicate enough information about what we share professionally. Please help me understand why I should grant you access to my personal and professional contacts because I'm not an "open networker."
The Solution. To me, LinkedIn Connections represent the ultimate professional privilege. I've worked incredibly hard to cultivate and maintain my personal and professional network (and it's taken me more than 20+ years to build my professional credibility and reputation).
Therefore, if you're unsure how to write a LinkedIn invite that makes a strong case for connecting, let's establish a connection on another social network first. If you're on Twitter, send me a quick @reply or RT one of my tweets that you found helpful. This is the only way I know you're out there. I promise I'll check out your Twitter profile and Twitter stream so I can learn more about you. And, if I start following your Twitter stream, that's even better! If we read and comment on the same blogs, tell me so I can review your blog comments. The same thing goes for LinkedIn Discussion Groups. I usually connect with other group members who actively participate and comment.
All of these items give me an opportunity to learn more about you. I promise to take the time because you took the time also.
Reason #3: I Suspect Your Real Motives for Connecting With Me
The Problem. You send me a LinkedIn Invitation because you think I can help you find a job (and you don't state that as your original intent or purpose in your invitation). The same thing goes here for people asking me for a LinkedIn Recommendation. There's something about "baiting and switching" that grates at me.
My problem stems not from wanting to help someone find employment in this vicious job market -- far from it. I've been helping former colleagues, classmates, and new connections try and find work ever since we've connected on LinkedIn. The key difference: These people were honest and up-front with me. That's why I accepted their invitations, and provided my assistance.
The Solution. If you're unemployed and think I can help you, let me know that's the purpose of the invite. Let me know why you think I can help and what common point-of-reference we share (i.e., are we alumni of the same school or do we participate in the same LinkedIn Discussion Groups?).
I know what I'm requesting isn't easy, and it's easier to say than do. When I was looking for work in 2002, I vividly remember stating the "can you help me find a job" purpose to people in emails or phone calls. Yes, it's humbling and you may feel embarrassed. Don't be -- Honesty goes a long way with me.
I hope you found this helpful in writing LinkedIn Invitations that get you connected.
* What have you found in your own experiences with writing or receiving LinkedIn Invitations?
* Have you received any invitations that stood out in your mind (good or bad) that you either accepted/rejected?
* What advice did I leave out that you think would help another reader?
If you made it this far, thank you for reading and stopping by. If you liked or disagreed with anything I wrote, please leave me a comment.