I think we all agree that LinkedIn is a invaluable business tool. However, recently I’ve had several requests to link in from people who I have never met and their invitation is the default LinkedIn connection request. There is zero chance that I will accept these invitations; I’m not against accepting invitations from people I haven’t met, but if they can’t even be bothered to write a couple of sentences then why should I?
So take some advice from someone who uses LinkedIn professionally, every day, to connect to people and win business for clients. I suggest you never, ever send a connection request without customizing it. If it’s someone you know well then out of common courtesy you ought to ask how they are and greet them. If it’s somebody you met in a meeting or at an event recently then you should thank them for the meeting, tell them it was a pleasure to meet them and ask to connect. If you want to connect to someone you’ve never met then at least explain who you are, what you have in common and why you want to connect to them.
Start by introducing yourself briefly (because the person can see your detailed profile on LinkedIn) and explain what you have in common, for instance:
- You went to the same college
- You worked for the same company
- You met and did some business at some point in the past
- You have some contacts in common
- You’re members of the same LinkedIn group
- You’re working on the same type of business, in the same market, etc
- You admire what they’re doing
And then say why you want to connect. Be honest. Your product may be a great fit for their company, or it might be useful to kick some ideas around, or it would be good to “compare notes”. You don’t need to go to town on this because most people want to grow their networks and are willing to link in if you genuinely have something in common.
And here’s my final tip. Once someone accepts your connection request use the relationship tab in their profile to complete the “How you met” section. You might not need to contact them again for two years, and at that point you may have completely forgotten how and why you connected and what on Earth you had in common!