Lessons from a LinkedIn FAIL
Today I received the following message from someone requesting to connect with me on the social network, LinkedIn. (NOTE: Actual names and numbers have been changed for the purposes of this demonstration).
I will dissect the email and point out why this is a FAILED attempt at networking, and then I will show examples of how to send a LinkedIn request that has proven to be successful in my experience.
Subject: networking 2010
I am interested in Networking with you in 2010 on Linked In
Please send me an invitation or your email address and I will reply with an invitation
I believe there are some benefits for us working together; if I can be of help to you, please call me at 615.555.4751
ForceTel Group LLP
First of all, The email doesn't even address me by name (FAIL #1) . If you want something from me, at least take the time to learn my name and address me correctly!
The email starts off with, "I am interested in Networking with you in 2010 on Linked In" - which might be acceptable if it were the first of January. Considering it is September....it just doesn't make sense to say "in 2010"...AND "LinkedIn" is spelled as all one word. At least spell the name of the social network you are using correctly (FAIL #2).
Starting off a request with what YOU are interested in is a bad move (FAIL #3). ALWAYS make a connection with the person by pointing out something relevant that you have in common in the introduction. For example, "I noticed that we are both in the same industry/ city/ group/ have connections in common/ attended the same ... (fill in the blank)." The more relevant you can make the connection, the more interested in connecting the person will likely be because they are thinking about how BEING CONNECTED TO YOU can potentially BENEFIT THEM.
The message goes on to say, "Please send me an invitation or your email address and I will reply with an invitation". UMMM.... no. I don't even know who you are or what you want from me. Why would I go out of my way to email you? So far, you haven't given me a reason that will benefit me or even told me who you are or what you do (FAIL #4).
After you have established a mutual connection, next is the approach. It's okay to tell them a little about yourself/ company/ experience (to establish credibility). Tell the WHO, WHAT, WHY you are contacting them BEFORE you make a request for them to respond to you. ALWAYS be direct and honest. No one wants a sketchy salesman in their circle of connections.
If possible, it is always good to throw in a complement. For example, "I have always admired your company's ........" or "I reviewed your LinkedIn profile and was impressed with your background and knowledge in...." Flattery will get you everywhere!
The email ends with, "I believe there are some benefits for us working together; if I can be of help to you, please call me at 615.555.4751". Guess what?! That last sentence is vague and does not list what he believes the benefits to be (FAIL #5). Sales 101 says to list the benefits before you make he closing "Call to action".
Your LinkedIn request must pass the "So What?" test. What is your compelling offer? I like to close with something like this: I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn to share contacts (WHAT'S IN IT FOR THEM) in our industry. Please feel free to contact me if I can ever be of assistance to you (OFFERING TO HELP THEM).
Once your request has been accepted, send them a message to THANK THEM for connecting with you. This also helps with keeping your name "top of mind". They may have accepted your connection request without much thought. A "thank you" always gets attention. At that point, you can request to connect over coffee offline (if available) or via phone or email.
I hope this proves to be valuable in helping you to grow your network. Feel free to give it a try and let me know how it is working for you.