Over the next month, I will discuss connection in an electronic age. When I was recently asked in a podcast interview whether my networking style was offline or online, my reply was: both. While it’s completely possible that some people can fully satisfy their networking and connection needs in one direction or the other, for me, I know it’s a combination of the two.

Here is one way I strike the balance: by bringing a personal touch to online interactions.

One of the crusades I was on early in my blogging days was to send a plea to LinkedIn to ask them to require personal notes when requesting a new connection. While some LinkedIn experts say an upgrade in 2017 made this more commonplace, I still get way more LinkedIn connections without a personal note than I do with a personal note.

So, let me ask you this: what do you consider a true connection?

For me, I want to ensure that the recipient of my invitation to connect has an understanding of why I’d like them in my network. Since I’m constantly trying to make our big world feel like a smaller place, I genuinely want to know who is in my network and how we might connect for the greater good.

That’s why rule #1 in most of my networking seminars is to always include a personal message when inviting someone to connect on LinkedIn. If you are reading this saying “of course, I always do this”, then please join the movement by encouraging others to do the same. If you are feeling bold, you can do what I do and respond to non-personalized LinkedIn invites with “I’m curious why are you interested in connecting.”

If it hasn’t occurred to you to include a personal note, here are some reasons why it can help you make more meaningful connections. You will:

  • Stand out immediately with a personalized note
  • Make the recipient understand why you are including them
  • Increase the chance that the new connection might follow-up personally
  • Create an opportunity to turn an online connection into an in-person connection

To cement the idea of including a personal note, I invite you to take the LinkedIn oath I created over 10 years ago.

Here goes.

Raise your right hand and recite the following:

“I promise – to always – include a personal note – when inviting others to connect on LinkedIn.”

This small step could be a big step in making our big world feel like a smaller place.

What words are you going to include to make your next meaningful connection?

Not sure who to even start sending personal invitations to on LinkedIn? Make sure you check out the Network Mapping Exercise I described in a previous article. There is a free download available HERE.

52 Weeks of Meaningful Connections is offered by Small Town Leadership. If you would like to see how much progress you can make toward making our big world feel like a smaller place, sign up below to receive these articles on a weekly basis.

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Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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