In honor of Valentines Day, Brenden, my friend and former co-worker, sent me what I consider to be the best LinkedIn Connection Request of all time.
Brenden took advantage of the ability to customize LinkedIn requests up to 200 characters. While I LOVE this invitation, making jokes can be a risk if you are reaching out to new contacts.
As a full-time Career Coach and the University of Denver’s (DU) LinkedIn expert,I frequently get questions about how to reach out to contacts through LinkedIn. LinkedIn Connection Requests aren’t just about what you write, but rather, writing the appropriate message given the context of the relationship.
There are three types of LinkedIn Connections:
- People You Already Know
- People You Know, but Not Very Well
- People You Don’t Know, but Want to Get to Know
While it’s always preferable to extend LinkedIn connection requests to people you have met before, learning the appropriate ways to customize LinkedIn invitations to new connections or weak ties can have a significant impact on your ability to create or grow your professional network.
Consider the following LinkedIn invitation guidelines to maximize your success on LinkedIn.
People You Already Know:
When you already know a connection well, there is less pressure on the text of your invitation. You can either use LinkedIn’s default request or create an informal, “business casual” invitation, such as the message Brendan sent to me listed above.
The Default Request:
Take this default connection request from DU Professor Corey Ciocchetti.
In this case, Professor C and I already know one another, so the default invitation is appropriate; however, note his professional photo and headline statement. These small details can make a huge difference in your success with LinkedIn. They demonstrate a professional image and remind me both who you are and how we know one another. Lucky for Professor C, I accepted his invitation.
People You Know, but Not Very Well
If you have met a new contact and want to connect with them on LinkedIn to stay in touch, it might be appropriate to send them a connection request; however, keep in mind that some individuals, especially experienced, senior level professionals, prefer to keep their LinkedIn networks small with professionals they know well.
Keeping these tips in mind could increase your chances of getting new contacts to accept your request:
- At the event, ask if they are on LinkedIn and willing to connect with you to stay in touch. If they are expecting your request they are more likely to confirm your invitation when it comes.
- When you reach out, customize the connection request:
- Introduce yourself
- Remind them where you met them
- Clarify why you would like to stay in contact
- Send the invitation within 48 hours of meeting the contact so you stay top of mind
Take this one I got from a DU Student:
“I am a member of the Denver Publishing Institute this year and have enjoyed your presentation and Tuesday lunches. Thanks for all the stellar advice and willingness to help! I’d love to stay in touch!”
People You Don’t Know, but Want to Get to Know
Many professionals simply are not comfortable accepting LinkedIn connection requests from people they don’t know. Don’t take this personally or confuse it to mean they aren’t willing to talk with you. Focus on the big picture question: What’s the best way to initiate contact with this new professional?
Even if you find this contact through LinkedIn, LinkedIn is often not the best way to message them. Creating a custom LinkedIn message signaling your intentions is an absolute must in this circumstance; however, it also could be advantageous to contact the professional through a different medium.
Take this invitation I got requesting a possible speaking engagement.
Although I had never met Jennette, she clarified that she found me on YouTube and explained why she wanted to connect. This “signaling” gesture clarified to me that she wasn’t a spammer.
If you are student, try something like:
I am an English major at DU and we are looking for panelists to come to class and discuss careers in teaching. Are you open to speaking with students regarding your experience? If so, I’d love to connect!
This method is especially effective when you have a clear-cut goal for why you need to contact this individual.
Message, Don’t Connect
Remember your overall goal in creating a LinkedIn network: building relationships.
Rather than sending them a connection request, consider sending them a message requesting an informational interview. You can send this message through LinkedIn or email. This gesture is less threatening to new contacts and,after you meet them, then you can consider if you would like to add them to your network.
When building your network on LinkedIn, keep the following guidelines in mind to maximize your chances of getting a response and making a new contact.
- LinkedIn is a powerful tool to find new connections in your field; However, finding a possible connection on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean you should send them a LinkedIn connection request
- Many professionals do not like to connect with professionals they don’t know
- Use LinkedIn to find possible contacts, but reach out to professionals you don’t already know by using email or LinkedIn messages
- If you have no other choice but to send a connection request to someone you don’t know be sure to:
- Customize the text to signal why you are asking to connect
- Include a professional photo and headline statement to support your career interests and personal brand
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