I’ve been on LinkedIn for years, and long ago made the decision that I wasn’t going to be an open networker. (For those who don’t know, open networkers will connect to anyone; I prefer my network to include only people that I’ve met or worked with.)
Over the years, I’ve gotten hundreds of requests, both from people that I know and from people who are complete strangers. And what I still can’t get over are how many people send the standard line:
I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
I’m telling you right now: there is never an acceptable reason to use that line. Nothing says, “I’m lazy” quite like not being able to craft a single unique sentence to make an introduction.
So what should you say? Did we meet at a conference? Remind me when and where. From a recent CFC attendee who had already covered all of the basics in a follow-up email (you do send follow-up emails, right?), I got:
As promised in my email, here’s a social media request – I hope this will help us keep in touch!
Have we worked together in the past? Send a brief note mentioning our collaboration at XYZ company and ask how I’m doing.
It’s been a while since our XYZ days, and I see that your business is keeping you busy. Do you ever miss working in corporate? Hope you’re doing well.
Of course, you can skip the formalities if we know each other well enough to know the spouse and kids by name, as in this note from an old wiseass of a colleague whom I’ve known for years:
I think i'll just go with the standard ... "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." No introductions necessary
Are you a complete stranger? Give me a compelling reason to connect with you. (I probably won’t, but there are many others who will.) Try something like:
I found you via LinkedIn search, and we have many shared professional interests. I see that you’ll be attending ABC conference in my city next month. Would you like to grab coffee while you’re here?
What do you write when inviting someone to connect on LinkedIn?
BTW: If you need a lesson on how to get clients through LinkedIn, check out the webinar with Ilise Benun, Are You Getting Clients Through LinkedIn? Here's how.