Whether you're new to LinkedIn or you're a seasoned user, connecting with new people can be a challenge, especially when you're not sure what to write in your LinkedIn invitation. You might be tempted to use the generic "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" template, but beware! By not personalizing your message, you could lose a precious opportunity to network.
Here are seven great tips on writing LinkedIn invitations from our approved career experts:
1. Be Honest
"Explain why you want to connect with the person," says Amanda Haddaway, author of Destination Real World: Success After Graduation For New And Soon-To-Be College Graduates. "Just say something. There's nothing worse than receiving a LinkedIn request with the standard, generic format and not having any earthly idea who the person is or why he/she wants to connect with you."
Dorothy Tannahill-Moran of Next Chapter New Life says honesty is the best policy when trying to connect with someone, especially if you're looking to do some serious networking. "If you want to work for their company," Tannahill-Moran says, "don't be shy about admitting that they are working for your targeted company and are looking for insights about that company. Open communication is always best."
2. Tell Them How You Know Them
"I get a lot of requests and I always appreciate a brief mention of why the person wants to connect," says Jenny Yerrick Martin of Your Industry Insider. "Whether they saw my post on LinkedIn Groups, found me through my website, or know someone who knows me in real life, that extra step usually gets me to accept the invitation."
3. Find Something In Common
When trying to to find something in common with your potential connection, Haddaway suggests asking yourself these questions:
- Is it a mutual career field or interest?
- Do you have connections in common?
- Are you connected through LinkedIn Groups?
Here's a request example offered by Debra Wheatman of Careers Done Write...
Dear Jane: I see that you are a member of X Group. I am also engaged with this group and would like to share some ideas with you. Please accept my invitation to connect.
This example is short and sweet, but it gets the point across effectively.
4. Make It Personal
"One-size-fits-all invitations are a waste of time," says Cheryl Simpson of Executive Resume Rescue. Always personalize your invitation to connect in some way, she advises. Mention a shared group membership, note a common contact, or point out similar backgrounds, education, or experience. If all else fails, tell the prospective contact what you hope you both will gain from the connection.
5. Be Enthusiastic
"If you're approaching the CEO/founder of a startup on LinkedIn, as part of a job search, you want to start and end by showing your enthusiasm for their business," says Kathy Ver Eecke of Working For Wonka. "Your expertise, background, and skill set should take a backseat to your enthusiasm and passion for their business. You want to get their attention and break the ice? Lead with that and you're in."
6. Reference Their Profile
Ben Eubanks of Upstart HR suggests taking a moment to check out your potential connection's profile and referencing something in it.
Example: "Hey, Mike! I saw on your profile that you attended XYZ University. I have a good friend who went there and have heard great things about it. I'd love the opportunity to connect with you. Thanks! Have a great day."
"Reaching out without offering some reason is a quick way to get your message relegated to the 'spam' folder, and LinkedIn will eventually suspend your account if you hit the limit of those responses," he says.
7. Thank Them
Arnie Fertig of Job Hunter Coach says it's important to thank the person in advance for agreeing to connect. Not only that, but you also want to offer to help him/her in any way possible and encourage them to call on you. That way, your potential contact feels like they can benefit from the connection. It's all about providing value. Remember, you get what you give!
The next time you're trying to connect with someone on LinkedIn, follow these seven tips. You'll grow your professional network faster than you think!
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.