For various reasons I’ve become a bit of a public figure in the local “online scene,” which means I’ve started to get more LinkedIn connection invitations, especially from people I haven’t actually met.
I think this is great – in fact click here if you’d like to connect with me. But read the rest of this post first because what I’ve been seeing is that people are terrible at writing connection invitations.
Should you connect with people you haven’t met?
Before we get too far I think it’s worth addressing the question of whether you even should connect with people you haven’t actually met. This is something I struggled with for awhile. My response to invitations from strangers back then was:
I’ve made the decision to only connect with people on Linked in who I’ve actually met. If we have and I’m forgetting I apologize.
I would however be happy to meet and we can talk about what we’re working on. If this is something you’d be interested in let me know.
Thanks for understanding,
This met with mixed responses. Some ignored, some I ended up meeting, and some offered indignant replies indicating they thought this was a silly policy.
So what did I do? I ended up asking what other people do on, where else, Linkedin Answers. I got some great responses on both sides of the argument.
One of the especially convincing points someone made was basically “if you’re only connecting with people you know you’re basically using Linkedin as a contact manager, and there are better solutions for that.”
So now, while I don’t usually seek out connections with people I don’t know, I will accept them depending on the person.
Writing connection invitations to people you’ve met
First lets talk about writing connection invitations to people you actually have met. Here you could probably kind of get away with the default:
I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.– Terran Birrell
But what fun is that? I prefer writing something more along the lines of:
It was great meeting you at <place>! I enjoyed our discussion about <topic>
Or I might thank them for a tip they gave me, or remind them about something we were discussing that we had planned to follow up on. Basically a personal anecdote to trigger their memory.
I’ll let you in on a little secret too. These don’t take a lot of work, but you can get away with even less work if you met several people at the same event because all you have to change is the second sentence.
My response to generic connection invitations
What’s worse than a generic connection invitation from someone you have met? That’s right, a generic connection invitation from someone you haven’t met. I generally don’t write a lot of these myself, but I have started to receive quite a few, which is why I’m writing this.
Lately I’ve taken to responding with something like :
I’m having some trouble placing you. Have we met? If not, would you mind sharing why you’d like to connect? I’m not opposed to “meeting” via linked in, but I like to get an idea of why people are interested in connecting 🙂
People will sometimes ignore this, but I’ve also gotten some well thought out responses explaining their thinking, which generally results in my accepting the invitation.
Writing connection invitations to people you haven’t met
So how do you skip that intermediary step and just get to the person accepting your invitation and avoid people just ignoring your generic message? Make it personal!
You will of course still run into many people who won’t accept any invitations from people they haven’t met, and you’ll waste your time writing personalized messages to those who will accept any invitation, but you’ll maximize your chances if you personalize your message.
A recent response to my prodding for more information offers a great clue of what the initial invitation should have looked like:
No, we have never met, but that is the best part on online connecting!
I am a health and social media coach and it is always good to connect with a web designer 😉 (just in case I need ya or perhaps you need me 😉
Hope that answers your questions!
So what does this message do? It acknowledges that we haven’t actually met. If it weren’t explicitly answering my question about whether we’d met, it could have been more subtle about that. It also tells me a bit about the sender, what it was from my profile that she found interesting, and best of all indicates that she might have work for me at some point. That was an excellent response, so I accepted the invitation.
A more generic example might look something like this:
I came across your profile [ saw your comment in some group, follow you on twitter, read your blog post on x, or heard about you from a friend] and saw [some interesting thing about you]. In my work as [profession] I am also interested in [or have similar clients to you] and thought you’d be a good person to connect with.
Basically, what you want to do is mention how you came across their profile, what about them you find interesting, how this relates to you or what you do, and, if you can mention, what’s in it for them.
Practice on me…
Ready to try out your new Linkedin connecting skills? If you enjoyed this post, might want some web design help or have clients that might want some, or think we should be connected for some other reason head on over to my Linkedin profile and let me know.
What do you think?
So what are your thoughts on Linkedin connecting? Do you connect with people you haven’t met? Why or why not? What do your favorite connection invitations look like?