As a career advisor and job search coach in an uncertain Alberta economy, working with a large potential client base and volunteering with several other job seeker support groups, I receive anywhere from 10-50 LinkedIn connection requests a week, depending on how recently I've attended a job-seeker event or facilitated a group presentation or training session. This isn't meant to sound self-important or -congratulatory; it's simply a by-product of being in a profession where others perceive I can help them in a time of need.
The vast majority of connection requests I receive tell me nothing about the person sending it, or why they want to connect. Truth be told, I'm a little lazy, and I can't be bothered most days to investigate whether I should respond positively to these out-of-the-blue invitations from total strangers. So to maintain sanity, I decline pretty much all of them.
The sad thing is that I undoubtedly miss out on potentially rewarding connections this way. The other sad thing is that it doesn't have to be this way. It's pretty easy to up the odds of an invitation being accepted by following these four simple rules:
Rule 1: ALWAYS personalize your connection message. As already implied, the standard LinkedIn connection message (or lack of one) gets ignored more often than not. If a person takes the time to write something personal in their request, I'm much more inclined to check out their profile and accept the invitation.
Rule 2: Only connect from a person's PROFILE page. All other "Connect" links on the LinkedIn platform (for examples, in the "People you may know" and "Who viewed your profile" sections) are booby-trapped; they don't allow you to tailor your message. Don't get me started on how LinkedIn basically encourages connection failure, but they do and we just have to live with it.
Rule 3: When connecting from someone's profile page on the mobile app, select "Options" (three dots to the right of the person's profile picture) or the "More" option next to the Connect link, and then "Personalize Invite" to get the message interface. Don't click on the "Connect" button as this is also a booby trap.
Rule 4: In your message, communicate two things: a) remind your target how you know them (or tell how you know about them), and b) tell them why you want to connect. You have to be concise as you only have 340 characters, but get those in.
A couple of examples:
"Hi Bob. It was great meeting you at the ABC Marketing event yesterday. I'd love to connect, and follow up on our telemarketing discussion. Perhaps we can meet for coffee next week? Cheers, Eric"
"Hi Sue. I've enjoyed your recent posts on Blockchain and Bitcoin. Would love to connect as I have some questions about virtual currency I want to discuss outside of post comments. Regards, Paul."
Rule 5: I know, why is there a 5th rule in a 4-rule list? Actually, this is the "zero-rule," which comes before the four already presented. And it's this: Ask yourself whether connecting with the person is appropriate. If you feel there's going to be some sort of communication or relationship between you and your connection target (you'll interact through messages, or meet for coffee, or perhaps do business together), then by all means connect. If interaction is unlikely, then consider "following" the individual instead. You can do this by selecting "Options" (yes, the three dots to the right of the profile picture) and then "+ Follow" in the resulting list. The benefit of following is that you'll receive their updates, and they can't turn you down, which is great if you're looking to learn from that person.
As I said already, this is pretty simple. There's not much else to say. I hope this helps you in your attempts to build a network.
This article was originally posted on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/connect-successfully-linkedin-eric-pye/.