It's been more than 10 years since I started using LinkedIn to grow my media planning and buying company IB Media LLC which morphed into our LinkedIn training service Connect To Success. During these many years, I have been consistent and told anyone who would listen that business is personal, and not to use a default message when you're seeking to connect on LinkedIn.
As a result, every single connection request I've sent has always been personalized with a note calling out to the individual why I'd like to be part of their network. Every. Single. One. Even those individuals I met at a networking event or have known for years. To me it's just good business.
With the new LinkedIn User Interface (some of you do not have it yet but will in the coming days), you no longer have to wonder how you know someone in order to connect. By the way, it hasn't mattered for over two years. Instead, once you click on "Connect" this wonderful box pops up! It says:
" LinkedIn members are more likely to accept invitations that include a personal note".
OMG, I feel so vindicated right now, sorry! Please click "Add a note" and let the individual know WHY you want to connect with them. Maybe they were mentioned to you by a common connection. Maybe you're in the same networking or LinkedIn group. Maybe you have 76 people in common and are wondering why in the world hasn't anyone introduced you to each other. Maybe you simply went to the same university. Whatever it may be, call it out. Otherwise, you'll be so impersonal with your request that you may likely lose your one chance for making a connection.
Thank you LinkedIn for listening.