I was recently speaking to a group of 700 project managers at a conference. The title of the presentation was, "Your Network is Your Net Worth: The Power of Super-Connecting." My goal was to teach attendees how important it is today to make networking a daily habit. In a time when every job is temporary, we're all businesses-of-one that must pay attention to the direction and momentum of our careers at all times. Otherwise, we could get blind-sided with an unexpected life event (layoff/firing, dying industry, relocation, etc.), and find it hard to bounce back.
Customize those connections for a 60 percent lift in acceptance.
Since LinkedIn is currently the number one professional networking platform online, it shouldn't surprise you that a large part of my presentation focuses on how to leverage LinkedIn on a daily basis to build a powerful network. You don't have to spend hours on the platform. If you know how to use it properly, you can get a lot done in just a few minutes each day. I've personally grown my network and have over 1.3 million followers on LinkedIn as a result of maximizing my efforts. Now, I enjoy showing other professionals how to become "power users" of LinkedIn by teaching them some hacks for success. Specifically, one of the techniques I outline is the importance of customizing your connection requests. When inviting someone to connect with you on LinkedIn (especially, someone you don't know), it's vital that you delete the default text and replace it with something that will help the person understand and appreciate the reason for your invite. Nothing screams, "I'm a lazy networker," more than the auto-text. At my company WorkItDaily.com, we've studied the impact and found that only 20 percent of the people you ask to connect with will respond to the default text. But that number jumps to 80 percent when you master this connection customization technique. Which means, taking that extra minute out of your day to tailor your invite can have a big impact on your ability to build your network. However, there is a glitch to this if you use LinkedIn's mobile app...
LinkedIn's mobile app trap.
At the end of my session, I invited all the conference attendees to connect with me on LinkedIn using the technique I taught them. Shortly after the session, I got stage-rushed by a bunch of attendees who said, "I went to connect with you on the mobile app and it didn't give me the chance to customize the request! It just sent the default one -- what did I do wrong?" They'd done nothing wrong. I'd failed to explain in my session that LinkedIn's mobile app works differently than the desktop version.
On a desktop, it's easy to customize the connection request. You can go to the person's profile page and use the "connect" feature. However, when you visit a person's profile on the mobile app and hit the same "connect" button, it automatically sends the default text invite. What most mobile app users don't know is before you hit "connect" in a person's profile in the app, you need to hit the three tiny dots in the upper right corner of your phone screen which produces a set of options that includes customizing the connection request. This little-known feature could help you dramatically increase your connections requests when using the app.
What to do if you sent the default text by accident.
If you're reading this thinking, "Dang, that's why that really important person didn't accept my request," don't worry. You can always message the person in the app and explain you sent the default invite by accident. Just be sure this time to use the opportunity to explain why you are seeking to connect. This will (hopefully) prompt the reader to check out your profile, which will invite them to accept your request to connect.
LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool and its app makes it even easier for us to form good daily networking habits. But you must learn how to use it properly, or the ROI on your efforts may suffer. For me, it's all about teaching people to work smarter, not harder on LinkedIn.