5 Tips to Personalizing the LinkedIn Invitation to Connect

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5 Tips to Personalizing the LinkedIn Invitation to Connect

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By now you’ve probably heard the advice that you can’t go about job searching without job networking. Job networking is indeed one of the more effective methods when job searching. Many job seekers are doing it with ease today thanks to social networking platforms like LinkedIn. While contacts are literally at your fingertips, it does require that communication is customized and personalized to the individual.

Here are tips to networking on LinkedIn, specifically how to send LinkedIn invitations to connect with others:

  1. Update your LinkedIn Headline
    When you want to connect with others on LinkedIn, the first information they’ll see is your name and Headline. For someone who doesn’t know much about you and who’s deciding whether to accept your invitation, it’s key. Present a Headline that informs others what you do, or aspire to do, and what problem you can help solve. By presenting your profile in this manner, it immediately informs others how you may have common ground with them.
  2. Give a reason to connect
    Put yourself in the same position as the recipient of the invitation. Would you accept an invitation to connect with someone you don’t know and who doesn’t even bother to write a note as to why they are contacting you? All you see is the default message: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” It’s unlikely the person will connect with you. Personalize the invitation to express why you are making contact. Perhaps you also have a mutual acquaintance, in which case you can use that to help you. For example, if the individual works for a company you have a desire to work for, you can make note that you also know John Doe. From there, you can say you noticed they are employed at XYZ company and then ask if they’d be willing to share some advice on how best to apply for a job in the specific department.
  3. Avoid doing it from the smartphone
    Unless you’ve updated your smartphone with the latest iOS or Android version of LinkedIn’s mobile app, the ability to personalize a message with your invitation to connect is unavailable. LinkedIn has also gone through new interface changes (read: “LinkedIn Changes Job Seekers Need to Know About”). Right now, when you try to send an invitation to connect through “People You May Know” it only allows you to send an invitation, not a personalized message. To work around it, go to the individual’s profile page to connect and from there you can choose to add your personal message with the invitation.
  4. Ask for advice politely
    You’re much more likely to receive help when you ask for advice politely and professionally. Don’t jump into a big sales pitch asking for a job and sending a copy of your resume during the initial contact. Start with some basic and simple information first. It could be that you’re seeking advice on how get started for a career in XYZ. If you approach it in the right manner, some people may even be open to an informational interview. The important thing to remember is to always be gracious and thankful for the time they are providing to you. And, don’t jump ahead and assume others will help. It’s a turn off when you come off as being entitled to it. Always assess the situation and the relationship you have with the contact.
  5. Make a point to follow up
    Sometimes contacts will accept your invitation, but not provide a response. The fact that they’ve accepted your invitation to connect is a good sign, so continue to pursue the relationship and follow up with a direct message. In instances where the contact has helped you, remember to send a follow-up message to keep them informed. Whether they have helped you with an introduction or served as a job referral, the professional thing to do is to be courteous and send a follow-up message to show that you remember and appreciate the help they’ve provided. Hopefully down the road you’ll be able to return a good deed.

Networking is not about numbers, but building meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. It’s about taking the time to learn about each other, so don’t go rushing into job networking randomly trying to connect with different people. Identify key targets who are appropriate to approach. They may also be contacts who can help you tap into the hidden job market. For more on the hidden job market, read: “Tapping the Hidden Job Market.”