"I'd like to add you to my personal network"
LinkedIn is a funny corner of the social network space; a weird hybrid of social connections, with professional accomplishments and virtual networking.
It is an effective and powerful tool that people use to establish their professional “brand”, while reaching out and connecting with those they've interacted with in the past and those they wish to interact with in the future.
LinkedIn is truly the most effective way to introduce yourself to the largest amount of influential people. But, leaving your trust in a website to establish your first impression isn't the best idea for a large majority of users.
Don't get me wrong, LinkedIn is a valuable tool that I have leveraged to connect with old bosses and co-workers as well as those I hope to work with in the future. It is a tool that can also be harmful when used with out focus or intent.
Take for example, the default phrase when connecting with someone: "I'd like to add you to my professional network."
When I see this phrase in my inbox, I read, "Too busy and don't care enough to personalize this message. Just add me as a connection!" It's similar to all of the invitations on Facebook to play Candy Crush from your 2nd cousin. After so many of them you just say forget it and un-friend or block.
A more apt comparison is the person that inevitably shows up to every networking event, I call them “The Card Collector.” The person who is only there to pad his/her rolodex with more small pieces of heavy cardstock, the person who awkwardly jumps from conversation to conversation, never really adding anything of value, awkwardly interjecting. People reluctantly give him their cards, and shove his into their back pockets. He may call the next day or week, but the person on the other side of the call has no idea who this guy is. As all he has done is collect cards, instead of actually getting to know people and connecting with them.
LinkedIn is this generation’s equivalent of a Rolodex, and the person who blindly and frivolously adds connections is the new Card Collector; The Connection Collector.
It is too easy, embarrassingly so, to edit this all too often seen phrase from something robotic, cold and forgettable to something personal, welcoming and real.
It is also easy to accidentally send one of these generic messages if you are not careful.
Here are the simple steps to take to make sure you are sending a personalized LinkedIn Connection request:
1) Navigate to the persons main LinkedIn Profile Page
2) Click Connect
3) Select how and where you know the person
4) Delete “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
5) Write your personalized message (max. 300 characters)
6) Click Send Invitation
Take the extra 45 seconds to write something personal.
It does make a world of difference, and it might help you connect with someone who can help you land your next interview!
Be personal, be warm and be real. And post in the comments your messages (please omit any personal information) and your results!