If you’ve ever sent an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, you’ve seen the screen below. If the person is a work colleague or a friend, then checking the appropriate circle and clicking “Send Invitation” can work just fine. But if your invitee is a potential customer or partner with whom you’ve corresponded with once or twice, this is when it pays to get strategic.
Here are 5 ways to get better results with your LinkedIn invitations:
1. Customize your invitations
Notice the line “Include a personal note:” with (optional) in parentheses in the image above. The truth is, if you’re serious about connecting, and especially if it’s an important prospect or partner, a personal note should be viewed as mandatory.
To save time, you can create templates for specific networking groups however these should be used as a starting point, not as the final draft because it’s important to…
2. Tell a story
Personalize your invitation by explaining the context of your connection request. Why do you wish to connect? What is the benefit this person will gain from connecting with you?
Feel free to reference a recent conversation, LinkedIn Group discussion or other event that brings you closer to your invitee.
3. Capitalize on incoming requests
Think of each request as a new opportunity. Reply with a personal message explaining how your customers benefit from doing business with you along with a description of your ideal prospect. Use incoming requests as an opportunity to include a call to action or to reference relevant content.
Kicking off your professional relationship in this manner sets the stage for networking opportunities and referrals, increasing your sales lead generation results.
4. Know your limits
You have 300 characters to work with. Make ‘em count. If you have room to spare, try deepening the relationship at the outset by calling attention to the LinkedIn Groups or other social/industry platforms you’re active in.
5. Know your boundaries
Create your best invite and then let it be. Sending multiple invites to the same person can make you appear desperate, and can inhibit your ability to establish a relationship with the invitee (or those in the invitee’s professional network) in the future.
If your invitee doesn’t accept, there are other tactics such as blogs and LinkedIn Group discussions you can use to get on the networking radar.
Best-in-class social sellers take advantage of every opportunity to rise above the “sales noise.” Sending personalized, relevant invitations to connect immediately puts you in higher company than the large majority of sales people who fail to do so.