Every day, I watch as small handfuls of people who supposedly want to connect with me online thoroughly and entirely waste their opportunity to do so. They do this -- most notably -- in the form of terrible LinkedIn requests.
Although some percentage of the dozen or so LinkedIn requests I receive every day are likely spambots and/or small children with no understanding of the interwebs, I would venture to guess that at least some of the people who request to connect with me on LinkedIn actually want to do just that -- connect with me on LinkedIn.
However, their unpracticed actions fail miserably.
Cringing, I spend likely no less than 1 minute and 45 seconds (or more!) each and every day deleting terrible LinkedIn "requests," wishing and hoping that someone -- somewhere -- could teach folks to use LinkedIn appropriately. At the very least, I reason, this would alleviate my own feelings of despair at the current abilities of my fellow humans to forge connections online.
Are you using LinkedIn to try to connect with someone you want to get in touch with?
Here are three things you must do if you want them to actually accept your LinkedIn Connection Request:
State the reason you want to connect. Personalizing doesn't mean simply rewriting "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" as "Hi it's Jamie -- I'd love to chat about your fascinating work!" Personalizing does mean writing a specific reason you want to connect and what you aim to gain from the connection. This could mean the good friend-of-a-friend standby request: "Sarah and I had drinks the other night and she said you were my LA dopellganger! Just wanted to say Hi, and would love to meet if you're ever in town!" Or, it could be a productive specific-ask-to-a-stranger-request: "I heard you speak last week at an event and had an idea about how I could feature your content on my blog. Could I connect with you to send you a quick email about my idea? If not -- here's my email just in case: XXX(at)gmail." (Note how you need to tweak how you write the address to get it to pass the LinkedIn "no web address" filter.) Either way -- state why you want to connect.
Provide a reference to you outside of LinkedIn so someone can look you up before accepting your request. Although I am so starved for worthwhile LinkedIn asks that I would likely accept any LinkedIn invitation from someone who is at least attempting to personalize their own message (!) don't use me as your barometer. If you were trying the specific-ask-to-a-stranger-request as in the example above ("I heard you speak last week at an event and had an idea about how I could feature your content on my blog. Could I connect with you to send you a quick email about my idea? If not -- here's my email just in case: XXX(at)gmail"), you'd get even more mileage (and dramatically up your chances of having your connection request accepted) if you provide your website so the person can look you up before accepting your request. Although LinkedIn prevents you from writing in your web address -- I'm sure you can be creative in typing it out ;)
Personalize the request by typing in actual content. The number one most miserable fail of would-be LinkedIn connectors the world over is their inability to remember to type in actual, original content. Do NOT use the preset "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." You will be deleted. Say something. Anything. Please. Even if you think they know you because you met once five years ago in a dark alley.
Go ahead, try your hand at it.
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