LinkedIn is a powerful tool for professional networking and I regularly encourage Puget Sound students to use it for a variety of reasons. Although I’m a fan of the site, I do have one pet peeve: the generic request to connect.Get LinkedIn and stand out!

The folks at LinkedIn have made it extremely easy to connect.

Too easy.

They’ve eliminated the opportunity to personalize requests in many situations (from your smart phone, from the Alumni page, or from a list generated by a search).

As a result, most requests have a generic statement about wanting to “add you to my professional network.”

Not only is that boooring, it’s an entirely lost opportunity—to demonstrate a high level of professionalism…to impress me with your polite, well-thought-out request…to stand out from the masses.

It’s pretty difficult to stand out when yours is just one more automatically-generated request in my mailbox.

I get requests to connect on a daily basis—it’s a side effect of showing people how to use the site—and often I don’t recognize the requester. These requests typically come from people who haven’t completed their profiles—there’s no picture to jog my memory, no headline to clue me in to their professional roles or goals, and no indication of why they would want to connect with me.

Would you become “friends” with someone on Facebook who you didn’t recognize at all?

Probably not.

I recommend customizing requests to every person you want to connect with, particularly if you don’t know them well. A friend or family member might accept just by seeing your name. But what about your supervisor from three years ago? A favorite professor? An alumnus you met at ASK Night?

Just two or three lines can make the difference between “Accept” and “Ignore”—and it’s a good practice to develop as your grow in your professional life.

Make your requests to connect from each person’s profile page, which always provides the option to customize. Remind the person how they know you and why you want to connect. Take the time to personalize, and not only will you stand out, you’ll be rewarded with many more connections.

For more tips and advice on how to use LinkedIn effectively, see our LinkedIn Tips page or schedule an appointment to meet with an advisor.

© 2013 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound
Photo: smi23le