Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

How often do you receive an invite to connect with someone on LinkedIn that you don’t know? Do you connect or ignore? That decision is more complicated when the invitation includes only the standard message “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” But when it has no other information, what do you do? LinkedIn_Invite

When we meet someone in person, say at a networking event, we get to know the person a little before we ask for his or her business card. On LinkedIn, we’re asking more than the equivalent of a business card before we know them – we’re asking to be a part of each other’s network.

Because LinkedIn makes it so easy to send an invite to connect with contacts, we lose the opportunity to appropriately introduce ourselves before we make “the ask”. If we haven’t met yet, I have a greater chance of a contact accepting my request to invite if I’ve specified why I’d like to connect. In the past, a LinkedIn invite would come up, and you’d indicate how you know the person (colleague, classmate, “done business together”, friend, other, I don’t know), and then there is a section to include a personal note. It’s pre-filled with the standard message stated above but it is easy to edit and personalize the message. These days, LinkedIn has increased the options of where you can go to invite a connection and you can click to send off a generic invite. It’s too easy, in fact.

Just because you can easily invite contacts to connect on LinkedIn, it doesn’t mean you should.

Even if you’ve just met someone at a networking event or business meeting, it’s good business practice to refer to the meeting or event as a reminder in your customized LinkedIn invitation. If you’ve never met, it’s critical if you want your invites to be accepted.

And, if you do receive a LinkedIn invite from someone you don’t know, I hit “Reply but don’t accept” in the drop down near the word “accept” and thank the person for the invite and state “since we don’t know each other, I thought I’d reach out to find out how I can help you.” Sometimes there is no response (hit “ignore”) and often I learn more that helps me determine how I should act. This effort saves me from ignoring potentially beneficial new contacts and accepting non-relevant contacts.

In summary, personalizing your LinkedIn invites provides the following benefits:

  • Increased invite acceptance
  • Demonstrated professionalism (part of your brand)
  • “Contact-Centric” approach (also part of your brand)
  • Higher productivity and “networking ROI”

3 Easy Ways To Join the Conversation

Are you on LinkedIn but not sure what to do with it? Have you noticed your contacts sharing articles, commenting on posts, asking questions? You can join the conversation and become more visible as quick as typing in your update.

“What should I say?” you ask. You are an expert in whatever you do. If you are not, become one. Be a student of your occupation and share your knowledge. Don’t sell. Just share.

How to get started:

1. “Share Content” – if you see a business article that interests you, post it. Just copy and paste the article’s URL, then go to your Update Posting Box and paste the link. LinkedIn should automatically post a visual icon from the article and the first few lines. You can add a comment that highlights what you thought was most interesting or surprising to learn.

• “Share” an article that one of your contacts posted
• Post a link to an article you’ve written from your website, published source, etc.

2. “Join the Conversation” – to start out, you can “Like” a post that is in your activity feed – someone’s new picture, a new job posting, shared content. Be a thought leader on the business subject you are passionate about.
• Share a time management tip you just learned.
• Post an industry “trend” or new fact as you return from a conference or seminar

3. “Create the conversation” – To up your game, join a Group and answer a question or a Poll. And, of course if you want to jump in head first, start your own Group and manage the dialogue yourself!
• Post questions that give you insight to your customers
• Find out what tools people use to manage their business by using a Poll

How to measure:

Your activity and engagement ROI can be measured on LinkedIn. Be sure to check out your “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature on your LinkedIn home page. You’ll understand who is viewing from your contacts and new contacts you might be attracting. Additionally, you can use your Notifications feature (the flag at the top next to your mail icon) to easily track who is responding and engaging with you.