How To Get Anyone To Accept Your "Invitation to Connect" on LinkedIn

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Since I conceptualized this blog as a place where I could talk about how we're all brands, I thought it might be time to talk about what building a brand next door looks like. And since it makes its presence known in my inbox pretty much daily, I'm going to start with LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a beautiful thing. I believe in it. I was an early adopter of it. I've seen it work wonderful magic on many careers.

And I rant about it constantly. #AngryTweet

You see, LinkedIn is a professional tool - IMO - used to connect you to colleagues, friends, business partners, vendors, clients, potential sales leads and job candidates, etc. It opens doors. I believe that. I do.

But people abuse it. They spam. They ask for meetings and connections when I have never gotten an email or introductory note from them. They try to sell me tools I don't need with "InMail"s riddled with spelling errors and extra exclamation points. The worst ones try to use me to connect to others in my organization.

So if you're wondering how you can get anyone to accept your request, there are three ways I've found to be most effective.

I accept invitations from people I've:
  1. Met
  2. Emailed with
  3. Gotten a personalized message from - even... 
Hi Whitney,

Your professional experience looks really interesting. I'd love to take you to coffee next time I'm in Seattle and learn more about what kind of social media monitoring tools would make your job easier. 

Hope to talk soon!

...would be better than...

Since you are a person I trust, I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

It's nice to be trusted by someone I've never met. I'm flattered. But not flattered enough to accept the connection. It really doesn't feel very satisfying to do that. It feels kind of gross in my gut, honestly. Because I don't like having to deny a connection, but I also don't like getting spammed.
Hiiii, here I am, looking pensively off into the sky. That's the face of a chick who's saying "Please don't add me unless you know me."

I get it. Sometimes LinkedIn finds your address book and you accidentally hit the button that sends requests to us all. Sometimes it shows you "People you may know" with the little button that just says "Connect." BUT YOU HAVE ALREADY EMAILED WITH US, so we'll probably accept. We don't need that extra effort. I work in social media every day. I used to compile reports about the weekly updates to LinkedIn. I don't know everything, but I know a lot about a few things. And I know it's easier to hit a button than it is to write out a personalized note. I also know that shouldn't keep you from doing it.

I'm talking about those people who trust me when we've never interacted in any capacity, the people who really want to sell me something - or worse - sell my colleagues something and haven't heard back from them. Or even the recent college grads (I really do love you, recent college grads. Go Vandals!) who add me as a connection saying you want to know about my current role. It's all right there. On the internets. I took the time to write it all out for you.  

What really makes me sad, though, is it's all so simple. It really is about a human connection. You're on LinkedIn because you want to know people, to move up in the world, to build a professional network of ambassadors who will go to bat for you and help you climb the proverbial corporate ladder. If you're like me, you want to learn and grow and progress and become a valuable mentor to someone else. 

But you're not going to get there just by clicking buttons to tell strangers you trust them. You have to put in more time. Because time is valuable and we're all operating in 140 characters or fewer. I've been the one hungry for the connection - I still am - and I can answer your "How did you get where you are?" question by telling you I put in a little more effort than I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.   
It's really incredible how far a personal touch and a little research can go.

Side note: Since I get requests so often, I'm considering starting a mini video series answering some of the FAQs I get about career path, tips for success, etc. I'm by no means and expert, but I have learned a lot in the past several years. Please let me know if you're interested. I'm not going to invest the time if it won't be helpful.

Happy Friday eve, everyone!

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