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How to invite people you don't know to connect on LinkedIn and what to say

maximizing LinkedIn, making the most of LinkedIn, using LinkedIn for your job search, job search on LinkedIn,

Because I speak regularly about the wonders of LinkedIn and why it's so valuable for job search, business-building and sales, I receive (and usually accept) all types of invitations to connect.

Most of the invitations I receive are not personalized. 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. Here's how:

Don't default to the 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 connecting with you if you explain who you are and why you want to connect and have a strong enough reason to connect with them to be worth their while.

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.

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 ABC networking event. I was the person who also liked snowboarding.”
  • “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 Delta 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 the such and such event and was so inspired by your message.”
  • “I've seen you often 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."
  • "I just moved to Austin and noticed that you are also a University of XYZ alum living in the land of "Keep it weird". I'd love to buy you a cup of coffee and learn how you went about getting acclimated to Austin. How's next Tuesday at 8 at the Starbucks on Congress Ave.?" 
As you can see from the examples above, these types 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 specializing 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 message to a recruiter. Tips for enlisting recruiters
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, click the Interests tab and then 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 and invitation messages can only be 300 characters in length or less.
  • Accept invitations! In all the time I've been on LinkedIn, I have accepted invitations from nearly all who have asked and have had very few spam connections. If I do have a problem with someone, I simply visit his or her profile, click the triangle next to the "Send a message" button and select "Remove connection" from the drop-down menu. The person is NOT notified that you have disconnected from him/her. 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.
  • You usually can't customize an invitation if you invite the person from a list, such as a list of your friend's connections. If you encounter an invitation box that won't let you delete/replace the default text, simply go to the person's profile page and invite them to connect through the "Connect" button there. If the person's main button reads "Follow" instead of "Connect," click the "More" button to see if the "Connect" button is listed as an option there
  • If you don't want to connect with someone who invites you to connect, 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 there. (I am the Kathy Bernard in St. Louis, MO.) 

Just do it!

Customize your connection invitations to reflect your personality and purpose. It can help you dramatically build your network!


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