I am always amazed at how many friend requests I receive on social media sites that contain absolutely no context.  In some cases there may be mutual friends that we share in common, but beyond that there is often no other clue as to why the other person wants to connect with me.

Many times it will not make or break whether I accept the request, but it is always nice to know the reason why someone is reaching out.  Because it is such a simple thing to do, I encourage people to take the brief moment it requires to explain a bit about what has prompted their request.

With that in mind, here are a few tips that will help you stand out from the pack:

Always personalize.

This applies especially to a site like LinkedIn.  There, you can send your request with the option of leaving the canned, generic response in the message body.  This is something along the lines of “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”  It’s pretty unremarkable, right?  However, the majority of requests I receive use it!  It seems to say that the person couldn’t be bothered to add a personal touch to their message.  At the very least, address your request using the person’s first name.

Explain why you want to connect.

This is probably the most important part of a request.  Online, it’s common to associate with people you might not necessarily know “in real life.”  This is all the more reason to let the other person know why you think it’s a good idea to connect.  A simple message saying you noticed you have several mutual friends, or you admire their work, or that you are interested in finding out more about their industry will suffice.

As long as you are shedding some light on your motives, the other person will usually be more than happy to accept.  It’s just good social etiquette.

Follow up after the acceptance.

This tip is for bonus points.  Don’t let your interaction stop after your request has been accepted.  Take the time to comment on or send a message regarding your newly formed connection.  This can go a long way towards making you stand out from the rest in the other person’s mind. They are more likely to remember someone who expressed appreciation for your new-found relationship–instead of simply boosting their number of connections, never to be heard from again.

Now that’s building “social capital.” 🙂

Photo credit: ROFLRAZZI.COM

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