Even LinkedIn can’t seem to write a compelling invitation to connect.
Is This LinkedIn’s Best?
I was quite surprised to receive the LinkedIn Blog with this suggested invitation to reach out to Very Important People (VIP) you want to connect with that you don’t know and your connections don’t know:
Subject line: Request from fellow Detroit native inspired by your TED talk
I recently viewed your TED talk online and, as someone who grew up in Detroit, I was particularly inspired by your story of success as a journalist. I am currently transitioning from teaching into journalism and I was wondering if you could offer any advice or resources specifically related to launching a career in digital journalism. I know you are very busy, so any guidance or suggestions would be deeply appreciated – a particular niche you recommend I pursue, blogs I should read regularly or even a news outlet that you might know is hiring in the Detroit area. Thank you for inspiring me and for considering my request.
Why Should I Connect With You?
Let me look. Is there a reason why John would want to connect with Lindsey? Not that I can see. I personally don’t think it matters a bit that John and Lindsey grew up in Detroit. He probably left years ago and what value does that add to the conversation? Here are Lindsey’s specific requests:
- Advice on launching a career in digital journalism. Hello. Have you heard of the Internet? I turned to trusty Google and typed in “careers in digital journalism” and found many articles and videos on the topic. Do your own homework.
- Can you recommend a particular niche? Do you want to write about sports, space aliens, Outer Mongolia? How can you expect him to recommend a niche when he doesn’t have a clue about your areas of expertise, experience, education or interests? What subject did you teach?
- What blogs should I read? See above. One source says that currently there are 164 million blogs out there. How the heck should he know?
- Can you point me to a job? Ah, now John knows why you’re writing. You need a job in the Detroit area and you want him to find one for you. Wouldn’t your own research tell you where the job openings are in Detroit? Go on to the websites of local media. Network in through your local business contacts.
Sorry If I’m Too Harsh
Sorry, Lindsey, if I come across as too harsh. I’m sure you’re very nice and talented. too. I’m no VIP and I receive LinkedIn invitations that I can’t believe have been written by serious people. About 90% of the time I receive the dreaded default LinkedIn invitation:
“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
Why? Even close business colleagues send the default invitation. I guess they assume I can figure it out. But most of the time it’s from people I’ve never heard of. Those I ignore.
Here’s the invitation that prompted me to write my first blog post about how to write a LinkedIn invitation. I didn’t know Al. But note that he didn’t ask me for anything. He asked if he could help me.
Good evening Jeannette, we are both members of NYEBN. I viewed your profile and based on your experience and expertise, I feel you would make a great connection. Please let me know if there is anything that I can help with.
Would you mind connecting?
All the best,
I accepted because he used my name, he politely asked if I would like to connect and signed off with a nice closing.
How Lindsey Could Write Her LinkedIn Invitation
So getting back to Lindsey’s invitation. I don’t think I’d even send it if I were her. I’d follow my advice above and keep networking until she found someone who could connect her — you know, the six degrees of separation and all that.
If Lindsey is still determined to write to her VIP, here is how she might craft her invitation. By the way, the recipient, who may not only be a VIP but also much older, might not appreciate the use of his first name:
Subject line: Your TED talk inspired me to write
Dear Mr. Jones,
Your TED talk reinforced my decision to switch from teaching political science to a career in journalism. I’m sure that your updates on LinkedIn would be very helpful as I gather the information I need to make this transition. Would you be willing to connect with me on LinkedIn? I’d be very grateful and please don’t hesitate to ask if there is anything I can do to be helpful to you.
Assuming that he accepts her invitation, Lindsey can begin to build a relationship by sending him relevant articles, commenting on his conversations in groups, replying to and liking his updates. Then she might ask him for advice. Give first.
What do you think of Lindsey’s original LinkedIn invitation? How would you write to the VIP to get him to accept your invitation to connect?