I agree; I will not connect with people I don't know, and I'm sad to say, I usually need a trigger to remind me I know you. Generic invites don't give me enough info, so they stay in my inbox, fermenting.
Despite all this advice, of the last 50 invitations to connect live received, only 2 have had any customization.
In fact, though I would like to think I live and die by this rule, I've inadvertently sent generic invites.
Why? Because LinkedIn mobile apps makes it virtually impossible to not to.
Let's break it down.
LinkedIn iPad app
1. People You May Know
See that little grey head with the "+"? Don't press it. It sends a generic invitation.
2. Individual profile page
There's that icon again, with the word "Connect." They should change that to "Annoy" or "Get Ignored," because it sends a generic invitation.
In fact, I have yet to find a way within the app that allows me to customize my invite.
So, let's head over to Safari and the LinkedIn website.
Safari and www.linkedin.com
3. LinkedIn Home
Here's where we can actually be good at LinkedIn. See those little "(+) Connect" links in the "People You May Know"? They're safe. Clicking those gives you the screen to choose how you know the person, as well as to customize the message.
Clicking "See More" lets you view more people at a time and gives you the option to customize your invite. Make sure you click the little pen-on-paper icon, rather than just the "Connect" to personalize your invite.
4. Individual Profile Page
This is another place where you can click "Connect" and customize your invite. Sadly, you'll have to jump through another hoop: you'll need to include the person's email in order to send your invite.
Is the Hassle Worth It?
So is it worth it? I think so. All of my clients have come directly from my network. As an independent business owner, my network is my livelihood. So, it makes sense that I take the extra five minutes to use Safari, dig out an email and customize an invite, to ensure the likelihood you accept my invite and remember me favourably. I've got about 30 unaccepted invites in my inbox because "I'd like to add you to my network" wasn't enough info to jog my memory.
Until LinkedIn fixes this oversight, mobile users will have more hoops to jump through to ensure the health of their network. But do jump. It's worth it.
And, if you find any other ways to get into the invite customization screen, please let me know in the comments.