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LinkedIn is a great medium for building and expanding relationships. As you expand your connections, it is important to communicate in a personal way with people when you invite to linkup. The building of effective, worthwhile networks requires personalized, thoughtful communication. While it may make perfect sense to you why you should linkup with someone, you need to help that other person come to the same conclusion rather than assuming they will do so on their own. No matter what your relationship is with the person you are contacting, even if you have never spoken with him, it is critically important to personalize your invitation! When you only utilize the default message, “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network,” you don’t motivate your new connection to assist you. Keep in mind that often people are known by a much larger audience than they can possibly know themselves. For example, as one who frequently speaks before groups of all sizes, I’m known to many people. The reality of these asymmetric encounters is I rarely remember the individuals in attendance as well as they remember me. When your hoped for new connection doesn’t recognize you, he/she is more likely to ignore your invite. Worse, they might hit the “spam” button. That is really bad for you, because if three people respond to your invites this way, your LinkedIn account privileges will likely be suspended. Once that happens, I can guarantee you it is a royal hassle to get them back! You don’t need to write a long letter in an invite… just a couple sentences will do wonders! Be sure to personalize each invite by including:

  1. How you know/found the person the person you are inviting - convey something uniquely personal
  2. Why you want to linkup with him/her
  3. Your offer of reciprocity
Invitations with these simple points help to remind the person who you are. They can serve as a great follow-up to a first meeting, or a reminder/rekindling of a dormant relationship. Instead of a person seeing your invite and saying to himself, “I wonder what he wants now?” he can think: “How great it is that [your name here] followed up with me!” Or, perhaps: “It’s great to hear from [your name here] after such a long time!” Here are four samples of LinkedIn invitation templates you can tailor to your situation:
  • XXX, great to see you at the XYZ event last night! As a follow-up to our conversation about widgets, I would love to linkup with you in order to further explore [insert areas of common interest]. This is a way in which we can both expand our professional networks. Of course, if there is anything that I can do for you by way of introducing you to any of my contacts, do feel free to reach out to me! Thanks in advance for accepting this invite.
  • XXX, although we’ve not met, I read the article you wrote, [insert title and where it was published]. I appreciate the insights you shared because [fill in the blank]. You indicated that you would be happy to linkup with readers, and I would like to take you up on that. Of course, if there is any way that I can help you in return, please do reach out to me. Thanks again for sharing your expertise on [fill in the topic]!
  • XXX, as you may recall, we did some business together/worked together when I was in the ABC position at XYZ Company last year. I know that is has been a while since we were in contact, but I am reaching out now in hopes that through LinkedIn we can maintain our relationship, and assist each other in building our professional networks. I always look to recommend those with whom I share a connection, and would be happy to assist you wherever possible. Don’t hesitate to be in contact anytime! Thanks in advance for accepting my invite.
  • XXX, I was in the audience last week when you gave a fascinating presentation to the XYZ group. Your point about [fill in the blank] was intriguing because [insert something that shows you are paying attention]. I would very much appreciate becoming a part of your network of LinkedIn connections. I am a professional with expertise in the area of [be specific] and am currently actively networking to expand my knowledge base and gain contacts in this field as I seek a new position. Of course, along the way, I hope you will contact me if there is anything I might do to be of help for you! Thank you again for your presentation, and for accepting this invitation.”
I have nearly 1,200 first degree contacts on LinkedIn, and was among the first 100,000 users (there are now more than 120 million of us). I’d be happy to share my network with you if you invite me. But if you do, please don’t use the standard “I’d like to add you to my network” language! See my profile at: www.linkedin.com/in/fertig. Happy linking... and happy job hunting! Image from Gigra/Shutterstock
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