Imagine you’re at a networking event.
Everything is going great: you’re meeting new people, talking to different professionals and exchanging contact details, hoping to do business with them in the future.
Suddenly a complete stranger walks up to you, pushes his business card into your hand, drops a bizarre “I’d like to add you to my professional network..” and walks away. You see him immediately go to another person and do the same thing again, and then again, and again…
“Well that was awkward”, I hear you say.
But this type of ‘networking’ happens every single day on LinkedIn!
And you’re guilty of it too, aren’t you? ,)
So although there are plenty of other mistakes people make on LinkedIn, I truly believe this is THE biggest of them all – sending a cold, awkward invitation to connect, without putting any effort into making it personal.
In some cases that comes from pure laziness, in others – just not knowing how to do it right.
So in this article I’ll show exactly how you can fix it, and the entire process will take less than 60 seconds. But before we jump in…
Why Is It Important?
Thousands of invitations are sent every single day.
Judging from the dozens I receive, barely anyone takes the effort to make it personal – so why should You?
First, a personalised invitation will make a more powerful first impression – as just a tiny fraction of all users do it, you will immediately stand out from the crowd.
Second, you can use it as a great way to spark a conversation (even when connecting with old friends), as well as set clear expectations on WHY you are contacting them. If you haven’t talked for ages, or if it’s someone you don’t even know, why should they connect with you? – Tell them!
Finally, it will keep your account away from getting restricted.
Not many know this, but LinkedIn is against you connecting with people you don’t know:
The most common reason for a restriction is sending too many invitations to people you don’t know. A restriction is automatically triggered if too many invitations are:
- Declined by the recipient with the I don’t know response.
- Flagged as spam.
As you can see, if too many people report you as someone they don’t know or spam, your account will get restricted.
Once that happens, you will only be able to send an invitation by using the person’s email address – and let’s be real, how many of us would find it convenient? Exactly.
The Wrong Way To Send A LinkedIn Invitation:
On the one hand, ‘People You May Know’ makes it super easy to send an invitation with just a single click.
On the other hand, it completely removes the social part of connecting with people on LinkedIn.
Although I’m very glad the days of the hilarious “Since you are a person I trust…” are over, the current “I would like to add you to my professional network…” message doesn’t cut it either, especially when you receive it 99% of times.
So instead of using the one-click invitations, or connecting your email provider to send generic invitations in bulk, you have to do more, and the key to sending personalised invitations is going directly to someone’s LinkedIn profile first.
How To Send A Personal Invitation On Desktop:
1) Use LinkedIn’s search tool or “People You May Know” to find professionals you’d like to connect with,
2) Click on their name to go directly to their personal profile and hit “Connect”,
3) Once a new window, opens specify how you know the person, add a personal message to your invitation (max 300 symbols) and hit Send Invitation:
And… that’s it! It couldn’t be any easier.
The best news: it’s even possible on LinkedIn’s mobile applications.
How To Send A Personal Invitation On Mobile:
Similarly to desktop, you’ll first need to go a person’s LinkedIn profile.
However, do NOT click on “Connect” this time – that would immediately send the same generic invitation.
Instead, click on the three dots in the top right corner and choose “Customize Invite”.
How To Deal With Generic LinkedIn Invitations:
The biggest question remains: “Should I accept all LinkedIn invitations, even from people I don’t know?”
My personal take is NO, you shouldn’t.
I believe that your LinkedIn account will be the most valuable if you only connect with people you actually know and trust. In the future, that will allow you to make valuable introductions and expect for the same from your own network.
However, I sometimes break this rule too. So now, when I receive an invitation to connect from a person I don’t know, I will reply to them first, asking if I met them or if there’s anything I can help them with.
If the person doesn’t reply, I will not accept the invitation. If they reply with something interesting, explaing why it would be mutually beneficial to connect, I will do that – that works for me so far!
If you’d like to adopt such approach, go to your Pending Invitations, hover your mouse over the small speech buble icon next to an invitation, and click reply – that will open a new window where you can craft your message and learn more about the other person.
So here you go – the next time you’re planning to connect with someone, take a few extra seconds and personalise your invitation.
You will make a much stronger first impression, set clear expectations and give better reasons for others to connect with you.
The result can pleasantly surprise you:
Cheers and good luck!