In 1978, Pete Townshend and The Who released their 8th studio album titled “Who Are You.” Featured on this album was a song of the same name. Essential to this rock classic is one stanza of lyrics:
Well, who are you?
I really wanna know
Tell me, who are you?
'Cause I really wanna know
I think about this song at least 3-4 times per day. Specifically, when I receive a new LinkedIn connection request. In most cases, the request is just a standard LinkedIn connection request with no note, no personalization and no indication why I should accept the connection request from this individual. I look at the request and think to myself “Who are you? I really want to know.”
According to LinkedIn’s latest statistics, there are 562 million registered users. By design, the LinkedIn platform limits each member to 30,000 1st degree connections. So, taking those statistics literally and to the extreme, you can’t connect with everyone. We need to be (and we should be) selective in who we choose to add to our professional network on LinkedIn.
When I receive a LinkedIn connection request that is not personalized, I do a cursory 10-second examination of the profile. If I do not see an apparent reason for the connection (shared connections, employers, education, industry etc.), I will typically ignore the connection request. Contrast that process with a connection request that includes a personal note explaining the reason for the invitation and the potential value for both of us in accepting the request to connect. In those cases, I will usually (75%+) accept the connection.
LinkedIn only allows you 300 characters to personalize the connection request. So, we are not talking about an essay here. Assume 2 to 3 sentences maximum. One sentence that explains why you would like to connect (what’s in it for you). And one sentence on how your networking prospect would benefit from connecting with you (what’s in it for them). The writing is easy. The research on the prospect before you send the connection request is what takes time.
Be sure that you are connecting with individuals that fit strategically into your job search plan. Strategic means they align with your target industry, companies, position title or they can get you through a door that is currently closed. If there is alignment, determining the rationale and win-win value for the connection will be straightforward. If you are not familiar with the process to personalize your connection request, LinkedIn makes it easy in this help article.
Take these few extra minutes to research and personalize your LinkedIn connection requests, and you will reap the benefits. You will see a dramatic increase in the acceptance rate for your connection requests, and you will see a dramatic improvement in the quality and value of your professional network.
As for Pete Townshend asking who I am, that answer is easy. A forever fan of one of the greatest rock bands of all time!
Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.