I absolutely love LinkedIn. It’s a great way to develop a professional online image and to network. As a student, I have enjoyed using LinkedIn to understand what types of internship and job experiences can be valuable in the real world.
One thing I have noticed is that when people request to connect with me on LinkedIn, they often fail to personalize their message. This is a HUGE mistake. Personalizing your request message gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and provide rationale for why you want to connect. Without a personal message, it’s as though a stranger walked up to you in real life and said, “Hi, I would like to connect with you.” That wouldn’t make much sense, right? Not at all. And it is not very professional. When I get these anonymous messages, I either ignore them, or if I am interested I will accept and send the other person an introduction message right away.
Please, please, please personalize your message when you are interested in connecting with someone, even if you know them personally and especially if you do not know them. It can be awkward or challenging to find the perfect intro message, but it is the first impression – it is better to construct a professional, positive and inviting message, then to leave the default “anonymous” invite.
Here are my tips for personalizing a LinkedIn request:
1. Introduce yourself and where you go to school and/or work.
2. Say why you want to connect with the person. Are you interested in learning about the company they work for? Would you like career advice? Do you want to collaborate with them on a project?
4. Be aware that there is a limit of 160 characters for this initial request to connect. Be concise.
3. Conclude with a positive greeting, i.e. “I look forward to connecting with you soon.”
Here is an example of a personalized request to someone who you do not already know, aka a stranger:
Here is a LinkedIn Etiquette Guide which explains other etiquette rules with maintaining your profile, writing status updates, requesting an introduction, and more! It is a little general, but it is a good resource to get you started!