How to ask people to connect on LinkedIn

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Connect with many people to expand
your network into hiring companies.
Readers, Please note: This article has been radically updated at this location to reflect LinkedIn's never-ending changes:

Because I am open to connect with job seekers or anybody else who invites me on LinkedIn (as long as they aren't trying to spam me!), I receive (and accept) all types of invitations to connect.

Most of the invitations I receive just include the default invitation message, which is usually something like, “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” But did you know you can easily replace the default message to reflect your personality and convey why you want to connect?

Customizing your invitations can greatly increase the chances that recipients will accept your invitation.

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Default LinkedIn invitation message

Default invitation message
Although LinkedIn recommends that you only send invitations to people you know well, many more people who you don’t know are open to connect with you if you explain who you are and why you want to connect.

Changing your message to be more personal, interesting and informative can greatly improve the response rate to your invitations and start to build a relationship with your new connections.

Instead of using the default invitation message, customize your message like I have done below by highlighting the default text, deleting it and replacing it with your own message.

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Example of a customized invitation

Customized invitation message
Modify your message to show recipients why you want to connect with them. Examples:
  • "Since we are both in the same LinkedIn group, I thought it might be nice to connect."
  • "I read your blog regularly and love your advice.” (Believe me; bloggers never tire of such messages!)
  • “You may recall that I met you at the networking event. I was the person who was very impressed with your business card.”
  • “I see you also worked at XYZ Corp. and know my friend Bob Brown. I’d like to invite you to connect.”
  • “I see that you are also an alum of the University of Missouri. Go Tigers!” Similarly, you could send messages to your particular school … “I see you were a 1995 Business School grad, too. I bet we had Econ 101 together. I‘d like to invite you to connect.” You could also invite people from your fraternity or sorority even from a different college saying something like, “I see you are a Kappa Kappa Gamma from ABC University. I was one at the University of XYZ.”
  • “I've enjoyed reading your comments on the [GROUP NAME] discussion board. I think we share a lot of the same perspectives.”
  • “I know we have not yet met, but my friend Joe Blow talks so highly of you, I wanted to invite you to connect to introduce myself.”
  • “I heard you speak at an event and was so inspired by your message.”
  • “I've seen you in the 123 Co. Cafeteria, but have not yet had the opportunity to introduce myself.”
  • "I'm a fellow St. Louisan and notice that we have 34 mutual connections so I thought I would invite you to connect in case our knowing each other might be mutually beneficial." 
As you can see from the examples above, these type of invitations are so much more engaging than the standard LinkedIn default message.

Reach out to recruiters
You may also want to use an invitation to connect to introduce yourself to a recruiter in your field or industry. For example, you could write something like, "I notice that you recruit IT professionals in New York City. I am an experienced Java developer moving to NYC next month. I would love to speak with you about opportunities." Or, instead of sending an invitation to connect, you may prefer to send a free OpenLink message to a recruiter.

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Choose the best connection option

Consider the best connection option
When you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn, the system gives you options to explain how you know the person. Choosing which option to use can be tricky because two options usually require that you know the person’s email address (the Friend and Other options) and one option … the “I don’t know” the person option doesn’t work at all. The “Groups” option works well if you both are in the same LinkedIn group. The other options … “Colleague”, “Classmate” and “ We've done business together” … typically work well because the options are based on YOUR work/school history, NOT the person with whom you are inviting.

Connection considerations

LinkedIn open networker, LION, LinkedIn open networking, open networker,
Open networkers display words like LION (LinkedIn Open Networker), Open Networker or numbers in their headline like my friend, Mark Lynch, does in this example.

  • People like Mark Lynch (shown above), who include the word “LION” or their number of connections after their name are called LinkedIn Open Networkers. Open networkers typically will accept all invitations … so by all means invite them to connect, but for best results, modify your message to let them know why you want to connect with them.

LinkedIn open networking basics
LinkedIn open networking

Invitation Tips
  • Did you know that you can invite anyone in the same LinkedIn group to connect? That means if you belong to a LinkedIn group with 20,000 people, you can send a well crafted connection invitation to anyone (or everyone) in the group one at a time to greatly expand your network. To invite them, go to your Groups tab, click on Your Groups and then select a group from your list. Click the Members tab and then scroll through the list of members to either invite people to connect or send them a message.
  • You cannot include a link or attachment in an invitation to connect.
  • Accept invitations! In all the time I've been on LinkedIn, I have accepted invitations from all who have asked and have had very few spam connections. If I do have a problem with someone, I simply delete their connection by going to my Contacts tab, selecting Connections, scrolling to the person and then clicking the white box next to his/her name and then clicking Remove Connections in the upper right hand corner of the page. The person is NOT notified that you have disconnected from him/her. So don’t resist connection requests; each connection expands your network which, in turn, can help you learn about and then connect with the right people within target companies.
  • Not everyone will accept your invitation often because they don't really use LinkedIn. Don't get discouraged; just keep on inviting others to connect.
  • If you encounter an invitation box that won't let you delete/replace the default text, go to the person's profile page and invite them to connect through the "Connect" link there.
  • If you don't want to connect with someone, simply click the “Ignore” button. 
  • Invite me to connect … and practice customizing your invitation while you are at it. I will accept and then you can feel free to ask my questions or let me know how I can help you. 

Just do it!
Customize your connection invitations starting now to reflect your personality and purpose.

Click the Job Tips by Topic tab to learn step-by-step ways to land a job.


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