Most of us receive invitations via LinkedIn when someone wants to join our network. In fact, it’s not unusual for me to see multiple invitations stack up in my inbox.  Does this sound familiar?

When this occurs, my first reaction is to view the person’s profile so I can learn more and see what we may have in common. Sometimes it’s apparent and other times I don’t have a clue.  The real question is what prompted this person to reach out to me and extend an invitation.  Hard to say when all I see is the default of “I’d like to join your network.” If the profile I viewed is of interest, my next step is to send a note saying “Thanks for contacting me.  What prompted your interest?”  Every now and then the person who reached out to me will reply, which I take as a good sign.  At that point depending on location, I’ll either suggest we have a phone conversation or if they’re local, I’ll suggest we meet over coffee or tea so we can get better acquainted.

If we turn this around and I’m the initiator, I definitely don’t opt for the default statement on LinkedIn.  Instead, I first take the time to research this person and determine where we may overlap or be of assistance to one another.  Then I send a more customized note by saying something like “Your name was recommended to me by our mutual friend  ___ and I think it would be beneficial for us to connect.  If you agree, please let me know a couple of preferred times for us to have a call this week or next.”

By doing this, I find the other person is much more apt to take this seriously.  As a result, I’ve had some productive contacts via phone and Skype and have also met people in-person where we’ve ended up directing business to one another. Relationships online are still relationships.  Therefore, if you genuinely want to get to know someone, it’s well worth your effort to put the time in upfront.  It’s a sign of respect and may lead to a productive and beneficial encounter.

The next time you reach out to someone via social media, I recommend you realize that introducing yourself goes beyond simply clicking.

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