LinkedIn is a great tool for networking. It’s also a great tool for meeting new people that you would like to connect with. You can connect to people through your current connections, groups, as well as many other ways. I’m also a big advocate of using the network to help promote yourself and your business. But don’t be lazy.
I often receive connection requests from people I don’t already know, and many of them I accept. There are also a lot that I don’t accept and the biggest reason is because the person that made the request is, well lazy.
When you click on that “connect” button an invite opens. LinkedIn actually helps you out with the standard message “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”
This is great, they’ve given you a starting point, but… Pretty much the only time I’ll accept an invite that only includes the standard comment, or the rare times I send them out like this, is if I already know this person.
Look at it this way. What would you think if you were walking down the street and someone walked up to you and said, “I want to add you to my friends.” I bet you would probably give them a puzzled look and keep walking while muttering something like, “That guy is crazy.”
If someone sends me a standard invite here are few things that go through my mind.
- This person was too lazy to write one or two sentences to personalize the invite.
- This person is only interested in gaining connections. Are they sending out so many invites that they don’t have time to write anything other than the standard invite?
- It looks like spam. Again it looks like someone just out to get more connections.
Ok, so what should you do.
- A network is only as good as the people in it. What I mean is, you can have thousands of connections, but are you really interacting with all of these connections? Do you really have a relationship with them? I highly doubt it. I really believe that a small well knit network is better than an extremely large loosely connected group. Interacting closely with 50 people is much more powerful than having a list of 5,000 people that you never speak with.
- Seek out people in which you are genuinely interested, or that you share something in common with. Use that to connect. This will create a bond that you don’t have to force. I find a lot of my business through soccer. This is something that I’m passionate about and helps me connect to others without having to force the issue. It also creates a bond of trust.
- Take the time to make it personal. Just a simple message would be enough: “I found you when I was researching social media professionals.” Or “I was looking for people who understand SEO and I came across you. So, I”d like to add you to my network.”
The bottom line is your invite should make me want to say, “Thanks for contacting me and it is nice to meet you. I see the value in adding you to my network too.”