Beyond the Basics: The Art of the LinkedIn Invitation

Recently, I’ve been struck by how people connect with each other on LinkedIn, both the language they use and their response to invitations.  Frankly, it seems some folks need to brush up on their etiquette.  Granted, the internet is a whole new ballgame, where people often don’t use salutations or complimentary closings, but it seems certain social graces should still apply:

  1. Personal invitation.  LinkedIn has a rather perfunctory default invitation: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”  Everyone is capable of writing something a bit more personal, and you should.  This is about making a connection and that means you need to treat the contact as an individual.  At least some pleasantry about how you noticed them on LI, reference how much you enjoyed working with them, etc…You get the idea.
  1. Give first.  Taking the above a step further, in addition to expressing a desire to catch up with them and inquire how your contact is doing, etc., you should mention that part of your goal is to help them with their work.  A relationship develops when both parties work for the benefit of each other.  Be the first to offer.
  1. Write back.  It can be quite frustrating to extend a thoughtful invitation only to have the recipient click “accept” without any personal response.  While I understand people are busy, would dropping a simple “nice to hear from you” along with the acceptance be too much to ask?  When I receive these responses, it offers a wonderful opportunity to begin a dialogue on the way to strengthening the relationship.
  1. Pick up the phone.  If you’re connected without the courtesy of a response, pick up the phone and call.  Something like, “I’m so glad we’ve reconnected.  I figured I’d give a call so we could catch up…”  Many people will be shocked that you even picked up the phone.  Lately it seems phones are only good to take messages or send and receive texts or emails.
  1. Look at your connection’s groups and books they’ve read . Ideally before picking up the phone, take a peek at your new or newly reconnected contact and see what groups they belong to and what they’re reading.  This is as personal as LI gets, and provides insights into the contact’s hobbies and interests.  It also makes it easier to reestablish a relationship and build on it.

So go ahead and try these steps next time you reach out to someone or they contact you.  You’ll be surprised at how much more pleasant and fruitful the experience is.

4 Responses to “Beyond the Basics: The Art of the LinkedIn Invitation”

  1. Jay Fischer Says:

    A valuable reminder in a world that’s moving very fast. Thanks David.

    • vsteinberg Says:

      I didn’t think of it that way, but yes, courtesy does require that one take a breath, pause and respond thoughtfully. Yes, even slow down. Thank you for commenting.

  2. shobavish Says:

    I love this post because I feel old-world when I write a personalized invite on any of the social networking sites. It is as though in the urgency of connecting we have no time to frame our own thoughts – here is your template!

    • vsteinberg Says:

      “Out with the old and in with the new” isn’t always the best path to follow. Indeed, as you said, framing your thoughts allows for a more meaningful basis for a connection in your invitation acceptance. Thanks!

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