Tuesday, November 9, 2010

5 Steps to the Perfect LinkedIn Invitation

Get Connected Make it Happen Special article. Great information on how to connect with LinkedIN with style!

We all know that when we meet someone at a networking event, we want to put our best foot forward and make afavorable first impression.

That's why we get self-conscious if we feel our palmsare a bit sweaty or there might be a poppy seed stuckbetween our teeth. We know to give a friendly smile anda firm but not crushing handshake. We know not toinvade the person's private space by standing tooclose. And we know to communicate standard pleasantrieslike, "Hello" and "Nice to meet you."

Yet when it comes to networking online, so much of thatawareness of how you might be coming across goes outthe window. Not for everybody, but it happens enoughthat I can't stay quiet any longer.

Yes, the rant you've been waiting for...my personal petpeeve...the sloppy LinkedIn invitation.

How you introduce yourself for the first time tosomeone who doesn't know you sets the stage for therelationship. Not that their impression can't bechanged, but that takes more work than doing thingsright the first time.

When you invite someone to connect with you onLinkedIn, you have the option of including a personalnote with your invitation. Unfortunately LinkedInpre-populates this field with a rather sterileintroduction:

“I’d like to add you to my professional network onLinkedIn.” -- Joe Smith

There's no warmth, no personality, no indication thateven a modicum of time or thought was invested. Itlooks like you were in a hurry, lazy or clueless, noneof which is particularly appealing to people you wantto do business with. Your invitation may still beaccepted, but simply adding another connection to yourLinkedIn profile really isn't the point

The point is to develop relationships. And a stampedout, cookie cutter, impersonal invitation like the oneabove is not a good way to start.

The sad thing is that it doesn't take a lot of extratime or thought to stand out in a positive way. Thereare only five things you need to do. Not a hundred,just five, so there's absolutely no excuse:

1) Say hello You would do it in person, so why not do it here? Addtwo words to the beginning of the note such as "Hi Liz"or "Dear Liz." This makes me feel like you'readdressing the note specifically to me.

2) Add context Your first sentence should be a brief explanation ofwhy you want to connect. Something along the lines of"I saw you speak at last week's event" or "I read yourbook" or "I see that we both know Marvin Jones." Even"I saw your name pop up when I was logged in" is betterthan nothing.

3) Introduce yourself Describe what you do in your next sentence. DO NOT say,"Read my profile to learn what I do." That's just rude.If you're the one making the initial contact, it's YOURjob to give them the basic information. "I'm a systemsengineer at Boeing" or "I'm a blogger and executivecoach in San Diego." Let people know who you are, andif they want to find out more, your profile is just aclick away.

4) Invite them to connect I don't have a big problem with the default sentence"I'd like to add you to my professional network onLinkedIn" IF the other four steps of this formula arefollowed. But while you're personalizing things, whynot personalize this sentence as well? One of my favorite ways is to say, "I'd love to connectwith you on LinkedIn and see how we can help eachother." Think about what would make it appealing forsomeone to accept your invitation

5) Add a closing sign off Before your name, add a closing like "Best regards" or"Sincerely" or "Take care." Something that you wouldinclude in any other note to a stranger whom you aretrying to impress.

So what's the benefit of taking the 10 extra seconds todo this, rather than leaving the default message as is?

First of all, you've stood out among all the otherLinkedIn invitations your contact may have receivedthat day or that week or that month, so you're going tobe remembered.

Second, you've left the impression that you'refriendly, polite and willing to go the extra mile.

And third, you've established that you're interested inbuilding a relationship rather than just increasingyour number of connections. In other words, you'reabout quality rather than quantity.

For a few extra seconds of your time, I'd say that's abig return for your investment, wouldn't you?

What do you think? How do you feel about receiving aLinkedIn invitation with the default intro rather thana customized one? What are your ideas for personalizingyour
messages? Please leave a comment on the SmartNetworking blog. I'd love to hear from you.


© 2010 Liz Lynch. All Rights Reserved

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