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How to connect on LinkedIn and get people to accept

Here's the ultimate guide to connecting on LinkedIn and growing your network!

Growing your LinkedIn network

Because I am open to connect with job seekers, potential LinkedIn business clients, and others who invite me on LinkedIn, I accept most invitations to connect (as long as they aren't trying to spam me!) After all, growing your network can help you find and be found by employers and customers.

Most of the invitations I receive don’t include a personal message about why the person wants to connect or how they know me. But did you know that you can easily add a personal 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. Plus, it helps you establish a relationship with these new connections.
How to connect
To include a personal message when inviting someone to connect, visit the person’s profile using your laptop or stationery computer. Click the “Connect” button, or if the “Connect” button doesn’t show, click the three dots  to the right of the person’s picture. A box will pop up like this, where you can click “Add a note”.
add a note to LinkedIn invitation
Visit a person's profile. Click "Connect" (or the 3 dots and then "Connect"). Click "Add a note". 
Another box will pop up where you can include your personal message. Note that you have only 300 characters to tell your story.  
personalize LinkedIn invitation message
Explain why you want to connect or how you know the recipient. Include your contact information.

In your note, explain how you know the person or why you want to connect. Include your contact information to build the relationship.

Note: Not everyone who you send an invitation to connect will read your personalized message because LinkedIn needlessly buries the message (you have to go to “My Network” > “Manage all” to view messages). So you may want to send a follow-up LinkedIn InMail message to each person after they accept to reiterate important points or to further the conversation.

How to find people to invite
There are many ways to build your LinkedIn network!
  • Type a person’s name into the LinkedIn search box and then invite them from his/her profile. Invite family and friends, current and past coworkers, customers, vendors, business partners, and people you know from associations, sports teams, and networking groups. Particularly invite people to connect after you meet them at a networking event (get their business card to help make this easier or invite them to connect on the spot through the LinkedIn phone app).
  • Invite all or some of your email network by going to “My Network” > “More options” and then let LinkedIn sync your email contacts with your LinkedIn account (Three caveats: 1) Be selective. If you invite too many people and several reject you, LinkedIn punishes you by requiring that you enter each future recipients' email address in a box before you can invite them to connect. 2) You can’t customize the invitation message so invite key people separately. 3) You can’t attach a document, so wait until a person has accepted your invitation to send him or her a free LinkedIn InMail message (which allows attachments) between connections.
  • Visit one of your 1st degree connection’s profile and then click "[NUMBER] Mutual Connections" (found just under the person’s top box). On the right sidebar, unclick the 1st degree box and click the 2nd degree box and use the other available filters, such as “Locations” to invite mutual friends of your friend to connect.
  • Invite “People you may know” from the “My Network” page (but don’t just click a “Connect” box from the list. Go to individuals' profiles by clicking their image or name to send personalized invitations.
  • Invite LIONs to connect. LION stands for LinkedIn Open Networker. These people will accept your invitation to connect even if they don't know you, but it helps to customize your invitation by going to their profile, clicking "Connect" and adding a note. To find them, look for the word LION in their headline or after their name, or look for people like me who list their number of LinkedIn connections in their headline. 
  • Join up to 100 LinkedIn groups and invite select group members to connect. You can find them by clicking the magnifying glass in the search box and then selecting Groups and then typing your city, field, or industry into the search box. Select groups of interest to you. You can join up to 10 per day. Once accepted, invite group members who post interesting things on the discussion boards. Comment on how much you liked their articles.
  • Invite people to connect who post on your LinkedIn home page, mentioning how much you enjoyed the article and why. Click their image or name to reach their profile. To improve your chances of them accepting, like, comment on, and share their articles on your home page to spread their messages to your network.
  • Invite college classmates to connect by clicking the magnifying glass in the search box and then selecting Schools. Type your school into the search box. Click on your school from the list the system brings up and then click “See alumni”. Use various filters (such as start and end years, where they live, etc.) to focus your search.
  • Invite recruiters. To find them, click the magnifying glass in the search box and then type the word “recruiter” in the search box. Use the filters on the right sidebar to find recruiters in your city or that specialize in your field or industry. Write something like, "I notice that you recruit IT professionals in New York City. I'm an experienced Java developer moving to NYC next month. I would love to speak with you about opportunities."
  • Invite people at target companies by typing the company name into the search box, selecting the company from the list and then clicking “See all [NUMBER] employees on LinkedIn". Use the filters on the right sidebar to find key people by location, keywords (such as title), etc. Once you have found the right people, visit their profile to send a personalized invitation.

    Invite people from target companies to connect by clicking the "See all" link.
    Use the filters in the right sidebar to find key people.

    What to say in your invitation messages
    Modify your message to show recipients why you want to connect. Examples:
    • “[NAME] It was so nice meeting you last night at the [EVENT NAME] event. I was the person impressed by your tie. Let’s connect. I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee. When works for you? [YOUR NAME, PHONE NUMBER, EMAIL ADDRESS]”
    • “I see that you also worked at XYZ Corp. and are connected to my good friend Bob Brown. Let's connect.”
    • “I see that you're also an alum of the University of Missouri. Go Tigers!” Or, “I see you were also a 1995 MU Business School grad. I bet we had Econ 101 together. Lets connect!” You could also invite people from your fraternity or sorority even from a different college by saying something like, “I see you are a Kappa Delta from ABC College. I'm a KD from the University of XYZ. Let’s connect! We KDs need to stick together!”
    • “I've enjoyed reading your comments on the [GROUP NAME] discussion board. We share many of the same perspectives.”
    • "I read your blog (or LinkedIn posts) and love your advice.” (Believe me; bloggers and posters never tire of such messages!)
    • “I know we haven't met yet, but our mutual 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 [COMPANY NAME] cafeteria, but haven't had the opportunity yet 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." 
    • “Congratulations on the launch of your startup! I’m so glad you started it in St. Louis. I help startups however I can. Let’s connect and let’s talk!”

    As you can see from the examples above, these type of invitations are much more engaging than sending an invitation without a message.
    Also accept invitations! In all the time I've been on LinkedIn, I've accepted invitations from nearly all who have asked and have had few spam connections. If I do have a problem with someone, I simply delete the connection by going to his or her profile, clicking the "More" button and then "Remove connection". (The person is not notified). If you truly don't want to connect with someone, simply click the “Ignore” button. 
    Not everyone will accept your invitation usually because they don't actively use LinkedIn. Don't get discouraged; just keep on inviting others to connect.

    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 and to dramatically improve your connection rate.


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