A bug bear of mine (that’s an English term for a pet peeve) is to receive a LinkedIn invitation with the default verbiage (“I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn” or “Please add me to your LinkedIn network” or “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”) To me as a business professional, first impressions count, and these default messages that LinkedIn provides are highly unprofessional and impersonal.
Some people automatically reject invitations from people who haven’t made the effort to explain who they are or why they want to connect. That’s a shame, since LinkedIn is continually prompting us to connect with people based on their algorithm of who we might know. Yet clicking on these prompts triggers a generic invitation.
Be prepared with LinkedIn invitation templates
To maximize your impact when making a new connection, have a suite of introductions that are aimed towards different audiences. If I was introducing myself to an executive recruiter, for example, the introduction would be totally different than one to someone who is currently in career transition.
I keep a Word document of these templates, cut and paste as applicable, and customize the invitation accordingly. To save yourself some time, you can also explore text expansion tools that fill in a pre-written message once you type a short code (e.g., ;rec for a LinkedIn invitation to a recruiter). You can still personalize the text before you send.
You can also create text expansion shortcuts on your iPhone or Android phone – very helpful for those small keyboards! Until recently, there was no way to send a personalized LinkedIn invitation via a mobile device like the iPhone, but now here is a method for doing that. As Brynne Tillman explains, connecting with someone from your phone also lets you bypass the “How do you know this person” form.
What to write in your LinkedIn invitation
Be sensitive also of the character restrictions so you don’t run out of space. Invitations with email address are limited to 2000 characters; invitations without email address are limited to 300 characters. So you must be succinct, sharp, and enticing in your request.
Be sure to add the person’s name to your invitation. If you’ve noticed from their profile that you have a common interest, skill, background, or connection, highlight that to further entice a read.
Let the person know why you want to connect, and ideally how you can help each other. Be honest about what you’re looking for, e.g., to expand your network, or research a potential employer that this person currently works for or has in the past.
LinkedIn also doesn’t permit you to place your email or web address in this initial introduction (although you can do this in a mobile invitation from your phone), so be sure your contact information is placed prominently at the top of the Summary section of your profile.
Lastly, as you’re thinking about how to connect on LinkedIn, also carefully consider who to connect with. Be discerning. There’s no race to see how many connections you can make. To me, that destroys the reason for a connection on this platform. Think quality, not quantity.