Asking a complete stranger to connect on LinkedIn can be fine! No worries. Just have something – like a group – in common. That means you look up who you want to link with, and join their group. Participate two or three times, and then fire off that invite. You might write: We are both in XYZ group, and I’d like to be a connection of yours on LinkedIn.
So, what’s the WORST invite ever? A sloppy outreach to a stranger with no reason for wanting to connect – followed by a request for referrals, and a vague description of what you do. Here’s an example I received last week:
Thanks for agreeing to be my connection. I appreciate any referrals. I empower women to get out of their comfort zones.
What? Even if I knew YOU, I have no idea what empowering women means. I have no idea what’s wrong with a comfort zone. And, I don’t know why I would want you doing whatever this is, to anyone who might trust ME.
Make sure you tell people what you do.
Not just on LinkedIn. Anyone. Anywhere. You. Go.
That means you have a simple, clear, specific sentence that describes what you do.
What’s wrong with this fine example of the worst ever LinkedIn invitation?
1) Whatever she apparently thinks is inherently bad about a comfort zone, I might think it’s great. My comfort zones are work, home, family, friends, my dogs, or Cream of Wheat in the morning with bananas and blueberries. These are things that I love. They bring me comfort.
2) When she leaves her “empowering” to my imagination, I think:
A makeover? A resume rewrite? A pep talk? Frankly: I have never seen anyone do empowering – and I’ve been a lot of places.
The solution: Speak plainly. Be specific. Give examples.
Remember: you really cannot go wrong, when you do the simple things right.