If you are on LinkedIn, I’m certain you have experienced this. You log in and there is a handy notification on the top right corner letting you know someone has sent you an invitation to connect. You click on it anxious to know who is actively working to become part of your team only to find that there is no message, nothing in common, and you have zero idea who this person is! Do you accept the invitation? I don’t and I’m going to tell you why.

I’ve explained before that I am not a LinkedIn connection collector. I am looking to build a network of quality rather than quantity. While you may have disagreed on that point, maybe this perspective will sway you.

I don’t want to accept a connection that couldn’t bother to write a sentence or two (less than 300 characters in fact) about why they wanted to connect with me in their invitation. I get requests like this on a daily basis and almost always reject them. Being a business owner, I’m sure some of you think it’s foolish to not accept as many connections as possible. But, I’m not in the business of gathering connections this way.

Here’s what a blank invitation to connect says to me: I don’t care about this at all!

Think about it: If you were trying to connect to someone who was meaningful to you in some way e.g. you thought they could help you land a job, help you with your business, connect you to someone in their network you are dying to speak with, or a myriad of other reasons, you would want your invitation to say something that made a standout first impression. When a stranger sends me a request with no context about why they want to connect, I know my decision whether to accept or decline makes no difference to them at all. I feel like a commodity you want to use to expand your connections number or someone you just haphazardly clicked on because LinkedIn said we should know each other. That shouldn’t be how it’s done so I don’t encourage this.

That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in connecting with people I don’t already know.

Of course, I’m interested in connecting with new people. Learning and interacting with others is how you become a better professional and expand your own knowledge and work. But, I want to connect with people who have a real interest in connecting with me. I’m not just another notch on their LION belt. I want our interactions to be positive and to create value to both of us.

It always goes back to what kind of network do you want to build? I think people are your most important asset. No matter what you do for work, the people in your network are your biggest advantage. Stop shooting off invitations like spam and show people who you actually care about what happens on the other end of that invite.

It’s not hard to personalize an invitation and frankly, it’s the best way to get noticed. It is a simple premise and not hard to integrate into your routine. It shows someone you took the time to actually think about this invitation and the relationship you are hoping to strike up. That can carry real weight. You don’t need to write a book or your life story, just write a sentence or two saying how you found me and why you think we should connect. It doesn’t have to be dynamic just let me know there is a genuine reason behind your request. Otherwise, your invitation will fall on deaf ears.

Try this out for yourself and see if you don’t get a better response from your network and potential connections. Personalization shouldn’t be something that gets lost in our instant gratification society. Every move you make develops your personal brand, and connecting with your network on LinkedIn is no exception. Make sure your tribe feels valuable to you, especially as you are welcoming them in.

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Read more: Emma Bennett