By Alexis Grant
If you're on LinkedIn, you want to grow your network. You want to connect with as many people as you can, because there's some serious career-boosting power in those connections.
But there's something you're probably not doing, at least not on a regular basis — and it's a move that will give you a far better bang for your networking buck.
Write a Personal Message
Most people don't do this. Think about how many requests land in your inbox without a note — the majority of them, right?
And what about you? Do you add a personal note every single time you request to connect with someone on the network? Or do you hope that potential connection will recognize your name or connect on faith alone?
Since so few people write a personal note, that means opportunity for you. Because when you do something differently, it helps you stand out.
But this tip is about more than being unique. It's about making it as easy as possible for the person you'd like to connect with to say yes.
Make Yourself Memorable
A lot of the people you want to connect with have huge networks. That means they often meet new people, either online or in person, and they get a lot of LinkedIn requests. And inevitably, they won't recognize many of the names of the people who want to connect.
Yes, even if you had what felt like a life-changing conversation with that person a week ago, she might not remember your name.
Or perhaps you never met the person at all, and simply read his blog, follow him on Twitter or are a big fan of his work. If that person has never heard of you, what's the incentive to press "accept?"
While some LinkedIn users do accept any requests that come their way, most people prefer to establish quality connections. They want to know who they're saying yes to.
That's where the personalized note comes in. No matter how sure you are that the people you're hoping to connect with should remember you, write a brief message reminding them how you know each other — or why you'd like to know them — and they'll be far more likely to accept.
And yes, this works even if you've never met or interacted with that person. If you go the extra mile to let him know how you found him, why you love his work or simply make yourself look interesting, the person on the other end of that request will want to say yes.
Be Succinct, but Personal
So what should you write in your invite?
It doesn't have to be anything fancy. In fact, it can't be fancy because LinkedIn only gives you a few characters to get your point across. It just has to be more appealing than LinkedIn's default "I'd like to add you to my professional network."
Here are a few examples that could work.
"Hi Danny! It was great talking to you at Johnny's party last Saturday. Hoping we can connect here! Thanks, Jane."
"Hello Barb! We haven't met, but I'm a follower of your blog and really admire your work. Would love to become part of your network. Thanks, Ron."
"Hey Sam! I heard about you and your work through a friend, and I have a few ideas for how we might be able to work together. Hope to learn more about you here. Thanks, Susan."
Get the idea?
This might sound simple, but letting potential connections know why they should bother connecting with you will make all the difference.
Take the Time
The best part? Implementing this networking tip takes a total of 30 seconds. LinkedIn makes it easy for you with the option to "Add a personal message" — you just have to put in the effort to do it.
If you're smart enough to take 30 seconds to replace that canned message with your own personalized one, you'll stand out from the crowd, increase your acceptance rate and grow your network far faster.
Alexis Grant is an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist. She blogs about careers and the new world of work at alexisgrant.com.