‘Will you be my friend?’
I can remember being asked this question in the ‘Cage’. This was the name of the school playground at my primary school. It was an invitation from a classmate (someone I knew) to interact, participate in our friendship groups, help each other going forward.
As the recipient of the invitation, I was being given the option to accept or to politely decline…
Social media – just like the ‘Cage’
In today’s world of social media, this question from my days in the Cage is being asked in the adult community millions of times every day. LinkedIn, being a business-oriented platform, calls them ‘connections’ rather than friends.
Looking at my LinkedIn profile today, I have 645 ‘first line’ connections which means I have asked – or been asked – to connect 645 times. According to LinkedIn, this number links me to a further 200,569 people; my ‘second line’ connections. Quite an awesome thought if they all decided to invite me to connect!
Where have the 645 first line connections come from?
Just like your own, these connections could have come from a variety of sources.
In my particular case, they are made up of:
- Business associates/contacts from any point of my career
- LinkedIn groups
- ‘Second line’ connections/introductions and referrals
- Blogging/comments on other people’s blogs
- My Twitter, Google+, Facebook profiles
- My Best of Henley feature
- Personal friends and family
- Personal social life/drinks parties
- Children’s school
- Local organisations
- Volunteering/participating in local activities
- Mutual interests/hobbies
Incoming LinkedIn invitations (Will you be my friend?)
Does the ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn’ invitation leave you stone cold when you receive them?
Without a warm message to explain who they are, where you might have met them (if you have) and why they want to connect you might feel inclined to adopt a “Who are they?/Why should I?/What’s in it for me?” attitude when you are invited to connect.
Just taking my own connection sources by way of an example, I might ask myself:
- Are we connected through group activity?
- Are they one of my 200,569 second line connections?
- Have they found me on Twitter?
- Have they found me through the UK Blog Awards?
- Do they like my blog activity or have seen my ‘Writer meets…’ blog profiles?
- Are they a parent at my children’s school?
- Have I met them at a networking event?
Outgoing LinkedIn Invitations – Tell ‘em “What’s in it for them”
The trick is to save potential connections the bother of going through this mental process, by explaining
- who you are
- where you have met them (if you have) or how you found their profile and
- why you want to connect
In my experience, sending and receiving personalised LinkedIn invitations is so much warmer. Outgoing and incoming connections are accepted almost immediately, and the relationship starts off on a more understandable footing. The invitation above from a graphic designer to Barack Obama illustrates the point beautifully!
You might like to try your own variations on the following examples.
1. Hi Tom
We met at the networking event in Henley. I loved hearing about your blogging business. I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn if that’s all right with you.
With thanks, Lindsay
2. Hi Dick
We both know Tom White. He has recommended I get in touch as we both operate in the digital marketing sector and there could be opportunities to collaborate. Would you like to connect?
With thanks, Lindsay
3. Hi Harry
I found you on Twitter, and just love your blog posts. I would like to connect so we can share great content.
With thanks, Lindsay
Unlike the children in the playground, where you knew the ‘source’ of the invitation, giving and receiving connection requests that explain the circumstances are far more likely to be accepted. The rules of the ‘playground’ game are the same in social media; the invitation is still to interact, participate in each other’s social media community and to support each other going forward. However, the scale and the sources are quite different. If you would like the recipient to accept the LinkedIn invitation more readily, they need to understand where it is coming from and why it is being made.
If you have a LinkedIn profile and need help in understanding why LinkedIn is so important to your business or crucial to your career search, feel free to get in touch. I run a 90 minute 1-1 training presentation to help clients get the most out of LinkedIn. Thank you.
Photo credit: edenpictures / Foter / CC BY, Photo credit: Jana Harper / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND, Photo credit: pursuethepassion / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA, Photo credit: Inmobiliaria Lares, Cangas / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
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