Let’s admit it folks, some people simply use Linkedin wrong. One of the biggest issues I’ve noticed lately is people using the generic “Invite Message” when adding me as a contact. While this issue has been bothering me for a long time it has actually gotten worse with some of the recent user interface changes from Linkedin. And I’ll admit this up front, there are probably some professionals that are not bothered by this issue. However, you must remember that Linkedin is a professional network for building relationships. As such, it’s worth putting in a little bit of effort when trying to make that first connection.
I’m going to say this plainly and clearly: You Should Never Use Linkedin’s Generic Invite Message!
Ok, there is one instance where this is acceptable. If you’re face to face with someone, and have asked them if they want to connect on Linkedin, go ahead and use the quick connect. Otherwise, just don’t do it. Nothing leads me to ignore someone faster than seeing the message below.
What this says to me, is that while you want to connect, it’s not worth 20 seconds of your time to write a short message explaining why. Linkedin is a professional social network, not a personal social network. As such, there are limited reasons that people should be contacting you to connect. I use Linkedin to network with other people in the industry, learn from thought leaders and participate in industry groups. I also accept the fact that I work for and represent a very large company, which means people want to sell me stuff, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you aren’t going to write a personal message about why you want to connect with me, good luck with that sale.
Let’s start with the basics. You’ve just found a potential contact on Linkedin. See that button that says “Connect”? Yeah, don’t hit that. I’m not sure why Linkedin decided this addition was a good idea, maybe to be more Facebook-esque, but they were wrong. See that button with the Green Check Mark, that’s the one you want. This will allow you to personalize a message explaining why you want to connect.
Let me be clear, you don’t need to write a book. Two to four sentences will be more than adequate to get the point across without seeming to be too pushy. Here’s a list of some very basic examples of what to write:
- Did you go to school together? Just say hello and that it would be great to catch up, because honestly they’re probably going to remember you.
- Are you trying to sell them stuff? Tell them what you’re trying to sell. It’s a professional network and that’s what happens in business. Don’t try to hide what you’re up to or be tricky.
- Did you meet at a conference? Mention where you met. Simple enough.
- Interested in learning what they do for work? Not a problem. It’s a professional network and that’s how you learn new things.
I know this all seems trivial, but the whole purpose of being on Linkedin is to develop your professional profile. You wouldn’t walk into a conference room and stare uncomfortably at people you don’t know. You would introduce yourself and try to find common ground. So use some common sense and do the same online.
Sr. Social Media Strategist for AT&T