LinkedIn has made a lot of things easier - keeping track of all the people that you meet during the course of your day-to-day business is a challenging exercise at the best of times. But there are still challenges - and making sure that your invitation to connect is accepted is one of them.
If you've ever come back from any sort of event - a conference, or even a small networking event - it's possible you'll have met a large number of people. Sometimes you'll get business cards, sometimes not - but it's often hard to keep all those people straight in your mind.
Getting one of these generic LinkedIn invitations after such an event is often frustrating - did I meet this person there, or was it somewhere else? What did we talk about? Their profile picture doesn't look familiar - have I even met this person at all?!
Like with any social network, some people are happy to connect with you regardless of any of those questions. But as the signal-to-noise ratio of these sorts of networks becomes more of a big deal, people are becoming a little more selective about who they accept into their digital social circles.
As a result, it's important to make sure that your first impression on LinkedIn is a good one. Avoid the generic, standard LinkedIn message at all costs. Make sure your contact on LinkedIn has some context to give the person you're inviting to connect some real, tangible reason to do so - even if it's just a reminder about where you met to jog their memory.
There are several different ways to connect with people on LinkedIn, and it's not always clear what each of them do. One of the common interfaces to connecting is from the "People you may know" page, which presents something like the following:
You'll note there are two highlighted buttons here - the big, friendly-looking 'Connect' button and then a little one next to it with a pen.
That big 'Connect' but is practically begging you to click it - it many people do. Unfortunately, this is the button that is responsible for sending through that boring, information-free canned invitation to your target!
The little button next to it though... if you hover over it, it pops up the text "add a personal message". This is the option you want! This will pop up a little dialogue that lets you introduce yourself and provide some useful information to give context to your invite.
Of course, there's no guarantee that this will mean your invite will be accepted. But I've definitely rejected those generic invitations from people that I didn't know because it simply wasn't clear to me why they wanted to get in touch - it makes some requests look basically indistinguishable from spam.
Increase your chances at your invitation being accepted - and make sure you press the right button.