Why the standard LinkedIn invitation isn’t your friend

Why the standard LinkedIn invitation isn’t your friend

...and how to fix it in three minutes or less

You’re working late at the office and the timer for the air-conditioning turns off. Suddenly the sound you weren’t aware of stops and the quietness jolts your attention. And the voice in your head is going: “Better check that out, right away”.

The standard LinkedIn invitation is like the background noise of the air conditioner. People tend not to notice it, until it is turned off. It’s so easy to ignore. So what do you need to do to get your LinkedIn invitations noticed almost instantly?

You just need to change the standard LinkedIn invitation

Why? Because sending the standard LinkedIn invitation is the background noise. Because if you want to build a terrific network of contacts, then you need to help your invitees see the value in connecting with you. Because helping them see the value will be a huge help in building your network of contacts more effortlessly, effectively and efficiently.

It’s also because the best way to build your network is to treat LinkedIn differently. For other social media platforms, quantity seems to be the greatest accolade and signal of status. With LinkedIn, the critical distinction is to aim for a network of high quality connections.

For other social media platforms, quantity seems to be the greatest accolade and signal of status. With LinkedIn, the critical distinction is to aim for a network of high quality connections.

Campbell Such, Bidvest

The best networkers know it’s about the quality of their connections – not the quantity.

They know that they should be able to call any of their LinkedIn connections and the other person would know who they are. They know the best approach is to create and foster an initial relationship; an initial connection; and then work to deepen it over time. You don’t achieve that with the standard invitation.

Changing the standard invitation does several things:

• It helps you stand out from the background din – because it’s different.

• It shows your connections that you understand the importance of a relationship with them.

• It shows that you’re prepared to put in the effort to initiate the connection.

• It indicates you see the value in developing a long-term relationship.

All of which positions you as a connection worth having.

So what should I change it to?

We all meet lots of people. Especially if we’ve just been to a conference or another big event. So we may not always be able to place the person sending the invitation. Put yourself in their position and ask what you’d want to know if you got an invitation from someone you can't really remember (or may have never met). Wouldn’t you want to know:

• How they know you?

• Why they want to connect?

Make the invitation easy for the other person to accept – and for you to create. Give them some details and some context. Where did you meet, what did you discuss. Make it brief and it will take you less than three minutes.

Here’s a framework to use.

It’s an easy change to the standard wording on the invitation – you just have to personalise it.

Hi <insert first name here>

It was great to meet you at the <insert name of event here>.

I really enjoyed our discussion on <insert a subject you discussed here – ideally something the other person had a strong interest in>.

It would be great to connect.

Campbell Such

Just make sure you make this change to the standard invitation every time you send a request to connect.

Is there a time I shouldn’t change it?

The only reason that you might not do it is if you’re not concerned about making the connection in the first place. And if that’s the case you might want to ask yourself, “why bother?” Why would you even try to connect to someone if you’re not serious about connecting with them?

Make sure your LinkedIn invitations are the difference that grabs people’s attention

What if someone doesn’t respond at all?

• Sometimes people don’t check LinkedIn very often. I’ve had months go by and then unexpectedly get a notification someone has accepted.

• Sometimes they don’t see the value in connecting with you at that time.

• Sometimes they have missed your invite all together.

Counter-intuitively, the best way to build a fantastic network is to take a long-term view. Like the best malt whiskeys, a valuable network of contacts takes time to develop and mature. So give it time. If they haven’t responded in, say, a month, then send them another invitation – maybe they didn’t see your first one. If that doesn’t work then put them on your long-term list and grab the next time you see them to have another chat with them…

Ahhh, I almost forgot…Something you should never do!

Forget to thank them for the connection.

Always, always, always send a “Thanks for the connection – looking forward to keeping in touch.”

It’s the start of the connection. Recognise it. Then get on with building it over time.

Here’s what we’ve covered:

· The standard LinkedIn invitation is like background noise – easy to disregard.

· Instead use a personalised invitation, which will take less than three minutes and make your invitations hard to ignore.

· Always send a thank you for a connection.

· With LinkedIn, it’s the quality of your connections that’s most important – not the quantity.

· Take a long-term view of your connections – similar to malt whisky they take time to mature and develop.

Make sure your LinkedIn invitations are the difference that grabs people’s attention. Don’t let yours be like the air-conditioner noise which we never notice. Change the standard LinkedIn message and stand out. Change the message so they think: “Better accept that invitation, right away”.

Success is about doing the right things. And the right starting point to build a high quality network of connections is to personalise the standard LinkedIn invitation.

Read more: The CIO's secret to great conversations

Take the invitation framework from this article, tweak it to make it yours, and use it every time you want to connect. Adopt a long term view of your network and aim to make each connection like Bogart’s last line of the classic movie Casablanca … "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Campbell Such is GM IT for Bidvest, a wholesale food distribution business and a top 50 company in NZ. He has a varied career in New Zealand and internationally, working in technology, management and roles in marketing and sales. Reach him at and through his blog.

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