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The world  is shrinking, LinkedIn’s membership is increasing, and our networks are growing and becoming increasingly more important to our business success. Most of us—including me—are open to connecting and growing our networks, but please, if we have not met yet, give me a reason to connect with you.

Of the 137 invitations in my LinkedIn inbox, 13 are customized, 10 at least say “Hi Colleen” and 112 are default invitations, that’s 82% of my small survey. They are from people I don’t know, may be in a common group with, or with whom I have common connections.  My guess is this a pretty accurate representation of what’s going on out there based on what I see from those sending me invitations and those I talk to who say they don’t bother personalizing their invitations.  What do you do when you send out a LinkedIn invitation? Take our LinkedIn poll.

Sending invitations with the default invitation is lame. It takes seconds to remove “I’d like to invite you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” You want to stand out, right? You want the person to accept your invitation, right? Well then say something authentic when you ask someone to connect on LinkedIn.

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Personalize your message—always. It takes seconds and makes a huge difference. It’s a bit like going to a networking event saying hello to one person after another without anything more than a “nice to meet you.” It feels cold and impersonal after a while. Same with social and LinkedIn. Let me know why we should connect. Can you help me? Do you need help from me? Do we have similar connections? Give me some context. You get the drift.

How much better are these? I received these over the last few weeks. Devin sent me this invitation just hours after we had a great conversation and following are a couple others I got after I attended the AMA Leadership Summit in Chicago.


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Have I ever sent one with a default message? Of course. Every now and then, especially on my iPhone or iPad, I hit connect before I realize what I just did. This is why I rarely do any connecting from any of the mobile apps. If I am on my mobile devices I still prefer to log in to the regular LinkedIn site.

Although the choices on LinkedIn for how you know someone are a bit limited, choose carefully and as accurately as possible. Someone sent me an invitation earlier today — Joe has indicated you are a person they’ve done business with at [a specific telecommunications company].  Colleen … I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. Joe. You can look at my LinkedIn Profile, I have never worked at a telecommunications company. Joe (whose name has been changed) has really not given me any reason to connect with him.

If you receive an invitation and you don’t know the person you can reply without accepting. Lindsey’s recent post talks about how to reply first, start a conversation and then perhaps connect.

Note what LinkedIn says about connecting below, especially the last line. If you send out messages to people you don’t know (whether you give them a reason to connect or not) and they say they don’t know you, you make connecting with others you don’t know in the future that much more difficult. You will then need to have an email address for future invitations.

LinkedIn Connections

Three tips for how to connect on LinkedIn:

  1. Personalize all your messages authentically, be conversational.
  2. If you send an invitation, it’s your responsibility to provide the context and start the conversation.
  3. Once someone connects with you, send him or her a message thanking them for connecting and perhaps even a next step or encouragement for staying in touch.

Tell us what you do, go to our LinkedIn poll.