By Shawn McGowan, JobsInME.com
Lately, many of my LinkedIn invites have said the same thing: "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn."
If you sent me this canned invite, I'm sorry if I didn't accept your invitation. You see, a majority of these requests left me scratching my head and wondering "Hmmm, how do I know this person?"
In fact, you may have gotten one from me. Yes, I'm as guilty as anyone of sending a vanilla automated invite message. Those messages reminded me of something important that I somehow forgot; personalizing social invites can improve acceptance rates.
As a result of this revelation, I've worked to develop a three-step resolution of how I plan to avoid LinkedIn invite amnesia this year. Here's my plan:
Provide context and relevance. Who are you and why do you want to connect? This is particularly important for those potential connections that you've never met in person. Explaining the value of being connected and what you hope to accomplish will go a long way in reaching that new contact.
What would convince them that you are someone they could learn from or benefit from knowing somehow? Providing a reason or objective for connecting ("I'd love to know more about your business"), and offering reciprocity ("If you'd like me to introduce you to anyone in my organization, let me know") both help to bring your value into focus.
Stick to the Plan
Stick to your own strategy. After all, it's your network. If someone requests you from overseas and you only accept people you've met personally or have worked with directly, then don't accept their invitation. There's no shame in keeping your business connections the way that you choose.
Conversely, know that not everyone's guidelines are the same as yours when it comes to who they accept into their professional networks. If you don't hear back, don't get upset or discouraged. Just as you have criteria people must meet, theirs may be different. Or, they may just not be all that active on LinkedIn. For example: LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) prefer to cast a wider net and will accept anyone into their networks; their profile usually displays that fact.
Let's not sit on those business cards for weeks anymore. Try to connect with new contacts you meet within 24 hours of the event. Send them an invite with a quick sentence or so reminding them where you met or that you enjoyed the conversation the two of you had about [blank]. Your quick response will be appreciated and likely remembered.
Drop me a line and tell me if this strategy would work for you.
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As a Social Media Marketing Coordinator, Shawn McGowan's passion for brand transparency and over 10 years of sales/customer service experience make him aptly suited for the job. A native of East Millinocket, Maine, Shawn grew up at the foot of Mount Katahdin and graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). When not writing, editing or immersing himself in the world of social media, he can be found enjoying the outdoors, art, music, tech, humor, Portland's amazing food scene, and all things nerdy. You can reach Shawn at smcgowan (at) JobsInME.com and Twitter.com/shonymac.