The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

LinkedIn Invitation

You can have a lot at stake when you’re writing an LinkedIn invitation. You could be trying to connect with your dream employer, network with your ideal clients, or hook up with people to invest in your business idea.

What can you do to boost the chances that they’ll accept your invitation?

If you’ve done any research on LinkedIn, you’ll know that you should personalize your invitations (even though few people actually do so). We’ll come to that in a moment, because it’s an important strategy.

But before you write your invitation, there are a couple of things you should set straight.

What To Do Before You Send a LinkedIn Invitation

You need to get two things straight before you send out any invitation.

First, check that the person you want to connect with actually uses LinkedIn. Just because someone has a LinkedIn account doesn’t mean they actually check it. Look out for the following:

  • Do they have a photo? If not, then it’s probably not worth connecting.
  • How many connections do they have? Anything under 20, and it’s probably a zombie account.
  • Have they completed their LinkedIn profile?

Just because a LinkedIn account seems dead doesn’t mean you should avoid it (your invitation might win them over to using LinkedIn). But it’s a good warning sign that your invitation is unlikely to be accepted.

Second, make sure you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. Don’t place all your hopes on one person. Instead, cast your net wide, and connect with lots of different people. That way, you’re bound to have some success, and you’ll discover a lot more opportunities.

Have a Reason to Connect

Next step is finding a reason to connect.

This could be that you just met someone at a conference, or have been chatting with them in a LinkedIn group. Both of these are good reasons to send an invitation. Remember to strike while the iron is hot!

Alternatively, you may have to find a reason to connect. The reason should never be about you, and always about the person you’re connecting with.

Good reasons for connecting include:

  • You share a connection in common (ask permission from the connection you share before you use this as a reason)
  • The person you’re connecting with – or their company – recently featured in the news

Hint: “I’m looking for a job at your company” is never a good reason to connect.

Write Your Invitation

You’ve done all the hard work already. Now it’s time to write your invitation.

The best personalized invitations are really simple and just 2 or 3 sentences long. Here’s a template:

Hi [First Name],

[How they know you, and a reason to connect].

Could we connect on LinkedIn?

Best wishes,

[Your Name]

In other words, the only part you have to fill out is the second paragraph. Here are some examples of what you could put there:

I really enjoyed meeting you at the workshop yesterday.

Daniel Jones mentioned that you’d be a really good person to get to know.

I appreciated the presentation you gave at the conference last week [Top tip: include your favorite line from the presentation].

I noticed that your company made record profits this year. Congratulations!

I really liked the blog post you wrote about [topic].

The key isn’t to write a lot. It’s to personalize what you do write.

Your Call

Do you personalize your LinkedIn invitations? If so, how? Let us know in the comments section, below.

unusual business social media

Social networks is a great tool for promoting your brand.

But you can do way more than that with social media.

Here are five ways to use social media you might be overlooking

1. Make a Splash in the Newspapers (Public Relations)

Want to make a splash in the media? Getting your business featured in a news story no longer means writing press releases and pushing them out to journalists.

Instead, you can just share your news on social media.

As PR expert Maggie Patterson explains:

Journalists rely on Facebook to source stories and Facebook itself actively promotes the platform as a “Rolodex” with 1 billion contacts for reporters.

Where your company may have relied on a press release in the past, you can now share your story on Facebook. It provides a low-friction way to report the facts in the case of breaking news or to provide comment on emerging issues that will help get your story to the media and your public faster.

To give the news you share extra oomph!, it’s worth building up relationships with journalists on social media. That way, you can point them to your story when you’ve got something you want them to see. Here’s our primer on finding journalists.

2. Find Out What Your Customers Think (Market Research)

To be effective in business, you need to know your customers. You need to know their likes and dislikes, their wants and needs, their pressing problems.

You also need to know how people view your brand, and get opinions on what you could do to improve your products and develop new products.

Getting this information requires market research. Just a decade ago market research was an expensive endeavor. You had to set up online surveys, or send out researchers to interview your target customers.

Social media completely changes that. As long as you know who your customers are, you can tap into their thoughts and feelings using social media.

You can use social media to:

  • Monitor what your customers are talking about, so you know their everyday concerns and passions.
  • Ask questions directly to your customers.
  • Listen to what people are saying about your brand.
  • Learn the language of your customers, so you can write better copy.

3. Keep Your Customers Happy (Customer Service)

Did you know that nearly three quarters (72%) of customers who make a complaint to a business on Twitter expect to receive a response in under 60 minutes? That’s according to research by Lithium Technologies.

If you’re not monitoring what people are saying about your brand on social media – and responding to complaints – then you’re contributing to the negative image of your brand.

As Anthony Leaper explains over on Forbes:

Irritated Customers have supportive Friends. They may have a few; they may have thousands. The dangerous fact, though, is this: it almost does not matter how many friends they really have. A single Facebook post that describes a jaw-dropping failure on the part of your company may, if stupefying enough or if told in a funny or snarky manner, be repeated, retweeted, “liked,” and “shared” innumerable times.

For an example of this, check out Ryanair’s middle gimp debacle. That’s exactly what Leaper is talking about.

By contrast, if you’re willing to help your customers online, they’ll respond in kind by recommending your brand to their friends and family.

Leaper again:

If you can discover and address an Irritated Customer’s concerns quickly and effectively, then you have a singular opportunity to convert an Irritated Customer into a Delighted Customer. Their delight, particularly if seen by many in the social media world, may move thousands of people into the column of potential customers who are now predisposed to consider your services—when they may have been on the fence before.

4. Uncover Your Business Persona (Brand Development)

Social media is all about building relationships with your customers.

That means you’ve got to be relatable.

Social media isn’t the place for corporate stuffiness. Act standoffish to your followers, and they’ll give you the cold shoulder in return.

Jeff Mancini, director of digital strategy at Interbrand, says people see brands they love in the same way they see friends.

In a Forbes interview, Mancini said:

We feel for brands similarly to the way we feel for friends. The reason we advocate brands in our lives are the reasons we advocate friends in our lives. That is, we genuinely like them.

Making friends with your customers means you must develop a brand persona. Social media is the perfect opportunity to do this. Don’t worry if you’ve not got it all sorted when you start out on social networks. You’ll discover your voice through talking with your customers.

If you need a bit of extra help developing your brand’s person, check out our 72 questions to help you uncover your brand’s persona.

5. Create a Vision Board (Strategic Planning)

Do you yawn when you hear the words “strategic planning” or “business plan”?

Developing a business strategy can be an incredibly dry process. But it doesn’t have to be.

Why not start out by creating a vision board of where you’d like to take your business?

Pinterest is the perfect tool for this. It gives you access to millions of stunning images, and allows you to group them into pinboards.

You can even create several vision pinboards, covering whatever aspects of your business you want them to. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • What you want to do for your customers
  • The types of products you want to sell
  • The mission and vision of your business
  • Your business’s ethos and values
  • The lifestyle you want to have while running your business

Over to You

What are some of the more unusual ways you use social media in your business?

Twitter Influencer

Twitter influencers are the people who make a difference. When they tweet, everyone listens.

Wouldn’t it be great if you were a Twitter influencer?

I’d like to let you into a secret…

You’re probably a Twitter influencer already.

Here’s a simple quiz you can use to see whether you really are a Twitter influencer.

The Twitter Influencer Quiz

  • Do you tweet every day? It’s tricky to be an influencer if you’re not using Twitter on a regular basis.
  • Do you share useful stuff? Yes, it can be fun to share a photo of your adorable cat now and again. But mostly, your followers want you to be useful. Don’t show away from the challenge.
  • Have you completed your Twitter bio? Without a bio, chances are you’ll be ignored.
  • Do some of your Tweets get retweeted? Then those tweets have a BIG influence. So much that your followers want to share them. Notice which types of content get the most retweets, so you can repeat your success.
  • Have people favorited your tweets? Again, this shows that your tweets are touching lives and making a difference. You’re an influencer!
  • Do you use hashtags? Hashtags scatter your tweets far and wide – beyond just those who already follow you. The more frequently you use hashtags, the greater your chance of having an impact.
  • Have you developed a brand personality? People will engage more if you’re likable – so you’ll have more influence.
  • Is your follower count growing? If yes, then you’re on the up in terms of your influence.
  • Do other users tag your @username in tweets? That’s a sign of respect. They want your attention – because to them, you’re influential.
  • Do you take part in Twitter chats? They’re a great way of meeting other Twitter users like you and growing your influence.

So, how did you score?

If you scored at least 5/10, then you’re on the right road. And even if you only got 1/10, then you still have some influence on Twitter.

In a previous article, we said how being a Twitter power user doesn’t always mean having tens of thousands of followers. It’s about using Twitter in a way that achieves your goals.

The same is true for influencing.

You might not be a BIG influencer. You might only influence a few people. But if those people are the right people, then you’re a Twitter influencer.

Keep planting seeds, every day. Some of them will grow.

You’re already changing more lives than you imagine.