If the best someone could do as an initial introduction was “I would like you to do business with me”, I suspect you might turn them away politely. Auto generated invitations from LinkedIn aren’t much different.
Do you ever receive LinkedIn invitations from people you are not sure you really know? How often does it contain no message apart from the “I’d like you to join my network” automatic entry?
I’ve talked to a few clients about this, and most of them all expressed amazement at the number of LinkedIn invitations they receive from people who fail to write a personal message to introduce themselves. I was also then surprised to be told by some clients that they often accept these invitations without really knowing the sender that well, or when there is no compelling reason to “link up”.
Call me old fashioned, but I am much less likely to accept an invitation from someone who cannot be bothered to make it personal. I know that my network would not appreciate it if I gave their details to someone who demonstrated a lack of “consideration” for others. Personally, I generally reject automatic entry messages.
Please let me reassure you that I am not suggesting that I am so important and my network is so exclusive that you have to be really offering something special to join it. However, if like me you value the trusted group of friends, colleagues and business contacts you have made over the years, why would you expect to give anyone who asks you access to that list without a pretty good reason or at least a personal request?
Whilst I encourage my clients to use LinkedIn and take full advantage of the great features it has, as I believe it is a great networking tool, I also advise them to use caution. It can easily backfire, as it did to a client of mine whose clients found themselves being pitched to by a property company who used my client as a reference without their knowledge or permission.
I find there is a correlation here in the way some people find themselves sometimes pitching to clients, and failing to differentiate themselves. Do you tell them how great you are, and what you can deliver (in other words is it all about you) OR do you identify personally with your client and tune in to the issues and challenges they face?
Here are a couple of LinkedIn invitations I have received over the past year:
“Hi Tim, we met at TED in LA last year. Let’s keep in touch and if you are ever in NY look me up”
“Hi Tim, we haven’t met but from time to time I like to identify other professionals in my sector that can add value to our services. Can we connect and discuss how we might be able to help each other?”
This might seem fairly obvious – but I accepted both of these (even the second one which was from a reputable organisation – and now a client) because the introduction was:
- Personal (call me by my name)
- Referenced (how do I know you?)
- Had a Purpose, or Reason (what’s in it for me?)
I now try and make sure any introduction I make on LinkedIn meets these criteria.