Should You Include A Note With your Connection Invitation On LinkedIn?

(they might be a bit more welcoming if you has sent a note…)


The answer is yes and I have some data back it up.

I had read someone on LinkedIn a ways back saying it wasn’t necessary to include a message and he was just as successful sending “naked” invites as with ones with a personalized message.

I of course thought he was wrong, but that got me thinking: has anyone researched this? And even if we all “know” that including a note helps, just how much better is it to include a note? Ten percent? Fifty percent?

So I decided to test the idea myself.

I wanted an honest test, so I put together a LinkedIn search. I chose operations people because sales and marketing people might be unduly disposed to accepting an invite from someone like me. The first week I sent connection invites to the first ten people on my search results list with no message, and then I sent connection invites to the next ten people with a personalized message. I repeated this for the next four weeks until I had sent fifty invitations to connect with a message and fifty without one.

Here were my results:

Invite to connect, no note: 18 out of 50 accepted

Invite to connect, personalized note: 39 of 50 accepted

So the first part of my findings is as follows: “People are more than twice as likely to accept an invitation to connect when you include a note.”

This brings up the question of what you should put in your personalized note.

I receive a lot of invites with notes that say something like “I am trying to build my network and would love to connect with you.” Note how this is completely impersonal. It could be sent to anyone. And this invitation revolves around what’s in it for the inviter – “building my network” – and not about the invitee.

In the note you send along with your invitation, you are in effect, giving the other person the reason(s) they should connect with you. What people are told to include are things like:

* shared experiences, such as previous employers or schools you both went to

* shared connections

* shared interests

To my thinking, these are tepid. It seems to me they translate to “there is less risk in connecting with me due to whatever it is we share.”

Instead, the two reasons I advocate are:

* what you can offer (expertise, experience)

* your genuine interest in their experience and expertise

And by a mile, “what you can offer” is the best option. That’s because it answers the “what’s in it for me” questions. The other reasons really don’t. When I write an invite, I add what’s in it for them. I always add that if they have any questions on using LinkedIn they can send them to me and I will answer them if I can. This is something anyone can say about their area of expertise. This makes you a valuable resource in case the other person needs it, and that gives them a compelling reason to connect with you that is in their best interests.

But that’s not all. I also hyperpersonlize my note to get their attention and to show that this invitation is not cut and paste or automated. For example, I may send a note to an invitee I share four connections with. In that note I will mention something specific about one of those people to show I have a real relationship with them, I actually know them, and that this note was written expressly for this invitee.

So let’s amend my original results as follows:

“People are more than twice as likely to accept an invitation to connect when you include a note that has been specifically personalized to them, and tells them what’s in it for them.”