How To Write a LinkedIn Invitation to Connect

by Meg Guiseppi on April 21, 2011

Linkedin Chocolates

I receive lots of requests to connect on LinkedIn. That’s very nice. I’m glad people are interested.

I’m selective about who I connect with, and go by quality over quantity.

Typically people inviting me don’t bother to actually write a message. They use the lifeless default, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. This practice is a huge pet peeve of mine, and usually turns me off.

Occasionally, they personalize the message. Sometimes they want information on my services. I’m happy to oblige.

Sometimes people boldly ask me to make an introduction for them, or help them in some way that will take me a fair amount of time. I say to myself, “Wait a minute . . . you’re a complete stranger to me, and you expect me to go out on a limb for you, and do you a favor?” I’m not likely to connect with them, or even respond.

Conversely, but all too infrequently, the message I receive is a gem that perks me up and generates my immediate interest in that person. Here’s one very recent request:

“I am a loyal follower on Twitter and am very impressed with what you do in life. I was hoping we could connect so I can learn even more from you.”

And another really nice one:

“Loved your recent post, 29 Biggest LinkedIn Mistakes. I shared it, along with others in the past, with several of my LinkedIn Groups. Would you like to connect with me here on LinkedIn? I feel like I already know you!”

No surprise, I immediately accept and respond to such requests with a personalized message. I’m drawn to people who take the time to craft a personal message that let’s me know how they know me, why we should connect, and possibly, how we can help each other. And throwing a compliment my way never hurts!

I do connect with people who use the default message, but only after I’ve reviewed their profile to see whether we might be able to help each other. I rarely connect with people who expect a favor before we even have a relationship.

No matter what the person’s situation, or whether we may be able to help each other, I will always accept an invitation accompanied by a well-crafted message, such as the two above. Wouldn’t you?

Related posts:

LinkedIn Guide for Executive Branding and Job Search

29 Biggest LinkedIn Mistakes

How to Build a Powerful Executive Network

photo by nan palmero

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi February 9, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Hi Meri,

Thanks so much for your detailed comment. LinkedIn is constantly changing functionality, to improve members’ experience, they say. Sometimes their changes make it harder to do what we want to do on LI. Your instructions from the LI site will be helpful to lots of us!

2 Meri Bond February 9, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Hi Meg,
Thanks so much for this. I totally agree, and also with Joel, in that it’s really hard to figure out how to connect with a personalized note. FYI, I pulled up someone with whom I’m doing business right now and was given two choices: Connect or Send InMail. The premium LinkedIn is way too expensive for me as a professional photographer, so I clicked on Connect. The invitation was sent without an option to write anything. Foiled again! AFTER sending the impersonal invitation, LinkedIn asked me if I’d like to be able to personalize my invitations in the future and showed me how when I clicked ‘yes’. Here’s what LI says:

You can add a personalized message to invitations from your desktop.

You can also personalize invitations sent from the LinkedIn mobile app.
On desktop, you can personalize from a member’s profile:

Move your cursor over the Down arrow in the top section of someone’s profile.
Select Personalize invitation from the dropdown menu.
If the above option doesn’t exist, you can personalize your message by clicking Connect in the top section of their profile.

A prompt will appear that contains a text box to personalize your invitation message.
Please note this prompt will only appear if you don’t have Personalize invitation in the dropdown menu.

3 Prasad September 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Hello Meg,
Yeah, I understood that it’s purely depending on their view and opinion. People don’t mind if they reject our request. But worry is that they should not use “I DON’T KNOW” option. The only favor we are expecting from them. That’s it. They may use the option if a person insisting them to accept the request. However, there is no question of insisting if a person get rejected once (system will ask email id for second time request).
I don’t understand why LinkedIn has introduced a special option “I DON’T KNOW”, because we wouldn’t have a second chance to send request.

Cheers,
Prasad

4 Meg Guiseppi September 25, 2013 at 11:32 am

Prasad,

Thank you for your insightful comment.

I’m glad you’ve changed tactics when you ask someone on LI to connect, and you now provide some reason for them to want to connect with you.

Try not to be discouraged or feel slighted if a recruiter (or anyone else) doesn’t respond to your invitation. Everyone has their own set of criteria for deciding whose invitations they’ll accept, and whose they’ll ignore.

We all use LI in different ways, for our own purposes.

5 Prasad September 25, 2013 at 5:13 am

Hi, I did get blocked (long time ago) by LinkedIn due to large number of ignorance (I DON’T KNOW option). Maybe, Facebook and other friendly/dating networks influenced them to think twice before accepting request. Then, I realized that the people need some specific reason to accept our request. So, I have drafted my own convincing message, explained them why I’d like to contact and also stated the effects of maximum number of ignorance by the people, and how it’s affecting our LinkedIn account (blocking or warning messages).

I am surprised that some recruiting professionals are not ready to extend their network. People have to realize that LinkedIn is an open (global) professional network and can extend beyond our own groups (friends, colleagues etc). These friends and colleagues were strangers too. They will become friends or colleagues once you accept them and build the relations. And, don’t draw your geographical boundaries. Wakeup guys….don’t just be a frog in a well and try to jump into an ocean.

We should also remember that we have the options of “REMOVE CONNECTION & FLAG AS INAPPROPRIATE” and should not worry about when the wrong person comes in. “Never judge people by appearances”. You never know how the company picks the right employee. Sometimes companies will face a situation where they have to compromise with limited sources and skills.

So, be an open minded and the demand is only for them in the present market.

6 Meg Guiseppi July 15, 2013 at 11:12 am

Drashya, thanks for commenting.

Knowing what to say in a “cold” LinkedIn invitation to connect can be daunting.

One thing someone who is a first-time job seeker such as yourself has to offer, is the willingness to help promote that person you’d like to connect with.

Consider this . . . you can tell people what it is you admire about them, why you’d like to connect with them (to learn more about their XYZ, say), you’re a great fan of their product (book, blog, methods, etc.), you have been and will continue to refer people to them for their expertise in XYZ, etc.

A little flattery never hurts, and the potential for referrals is usually greatly appreciated.

Just the fact that you’ve taken the time to compose a personalized note will have a positive impact.

Also, don’t assume that people will take the time to click over to your profile to assess you before connecting with you. Give them enough information about you in the invitation for them to make the decision.

Good luck in building your LinkedIn network!

7 Drashya July 13, 2013 at 2:44 am

Hi Meg,
I am college student and right now my sole purpose, right now, on LinkedIn is to connect to people in the industry and make their acquaintance so that I may somehow land a great internship and (even job!).

I figured out long ago that a request with default message is rude. But I never could figure out what to write in the message box since the receiver is a big professional and would benefit negligibly by connecting with me. Besides, wouldn’t it be obvious for them on the first look at my near-to-graduate profile why I am trying to connect? Could you help me out here?

8 Meg Guiseppi June 23, 2012 at 8:41 am

Thanks for bringing this up, Joel. I really should have included instructions in the post.

It’s very simple to personalize your note:

When you hit the “connect” button on someone you want to connect with on LinkedIn, you’re first asked “How do you know XXX?”. Just below that query you’ll see a box entitled “Include a personal note: (optional)”, within which sits the default message “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” along with your name in closing. All you do is place your cursor on the default message, delete it and enter whatever personal message you choose, before sending it.

That’s all there is to it!

Thanks again for asking!

9 Joel Deceuster June 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I’ve searched and searched and have NEVER been able to figure out how to PERSONALIZE an invitation to connect. It’s the only reason I send invites using the default. Can you tell me how I could personalize an invitation? Joel

10 Meg Guiseppi June 7, 2012 at 8:26 am

Richard, you hit the nail on the head.

Write genuine invitations, supporting your brand, to those you want to connect with. Make them know you’re interested in THEM, not just building up more connections.

Thanks for commenting!

Meg

11 Richard F. Strauss June 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm

From the discussion above, seems like a thoughtful invitation related to the brand of the one invited
is a genuine invitation. If the invitee seems important to your network, the invitee should sense
that you took the extra effort to convey this? Thanks you for pointing this seemingly small
but important point.

12 Meg Guiseppi May 17, 2012 at 7:11 am

Thanks for commenting, Marsha

I hear you. But although I’m also peeved by what you call “lazy messages”, I still connect with people using the default. The vast majority of people who reach out to me don’t personalize their messages so, if they are a colleague I know, or if they may be a potential client, I’ll overlook their faux pas.

I figure they don’t know any better. If LI set them up with a ready message, they probably think that’s the way you do it. I like to think that, after using LI for a while, they rethink the way they reach out to others.

13 Marsha Haygood May 16, 2012 at 8:14 am

Thanks for sharing this article. I agree 100%. This is also a pet peeve of mine. When someone uses the default message, which I call the “lazy message” I think they don’t understand or care about networking and relationship building and are just trying to build up their connection number.
If I do not recognize their name, before accepting I will often reply back asking how we know one another. Also, I ignore those without a picture.

14 Meg Guiseppi September 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Hi Jill,

It bugs me when someone I don’t know sends me an invitation, too. Unless they’re a potential client or someone I really want to network with, I don’t accept.

Thanks for commenting!
Meg

15 Jill Grindle September 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Very good points, and I would add in that my pet peeve is when someone I have never heard of asks me to join their network. Not sure if it is just a number building game for those people, but I am not interested in having a network like that. There has to be a level of integrity (in my opinion) when it comes to the use of social media.

16 Meg Guiseppi June 28, 2011 at 6:03 am

Hi Khalid,

Thanks for your comment. I think many people are like you. At first, they don’t understand how LinkedIn works, so they go along with the default “let’s connect” message. But I’ve also had this happen with many people who have hundreds of connections, so they’re not new to LI. They could take a lesson from you, and zero in on presenting themselves better with a personalized message.

Meg

17 Khalid A June 28, 2011 at 1:40 am

Hi Meg,
I must say great article… I definitely share your thoughts. Similar to many others, I was guilty of sending the default LinkedIn msg. As I developed a better understanding and grasp of LinkedIn, subsequently my invites have become more and more
personalized. I believe too that this helps in breaking the ice; nothing more awkward than accepting an invite then 2 months later still not knowing what prompted the initial request.

Anyhow… thanks again for the article and keep up the good work. Looking forward to more reads!

Khal

18 Meg Guiseppi June 17, 2011 at 7:12 am

I appreciate your comment, Bonnie.

I will connect with people I don’t know on LinkedIn, who use the default message, if they’re potential clients. Otherwise, I’m generally more selective.

Best,
Meg

19 Bonnie Gray June 16, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Meg,
I enjoyed reading your article and agree with you 100%. I still find it odd when a total stranger wants to connect with me without a connection on LinkedIn and especially when they want to be my friend on FaceBook. Especially when we have absolutely no one in common.

Great article. Thanks. I look forward to reading more.

Bonnie

20 Meg Guiseppi June 8, 2011 at 7:23 am

Thanks for commenting, Lucy.

I was guilty of using the default message, too, when I was first learning LinkedIn. I didn’t know any better! I think people will see a big difference in response rates once they take the time to personalize their invitation message.

Best,
Meg

21 Lucy June 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Hi Meg, very good observation and impersonal requests are real disasters! However, I want to confess, I did send some of the messages without any notes just by mistake while learning how to use the Linkedin options. Thus, I always check those who is sending me a message. Then I decide on contacting or not contacting them by my intuition:)
Regards, Lucy

22 Meg Guiseppi May 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

Thanks for adding your own tip, Promod.

I think some people hit “send” using the default message without realizing they can (and should) change it. If they’re new to LinkedIn, they may think that the default is the correct way to connect. I don’t believe everyone does it out of laziness, although I’m sure that’s true for many. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who is turned off by receiving these impersonal requests, just like you are.

Best,
Meg

23 Promod Sharma | @mActuary May 16, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Your suggestions are much better than using the LinkedIn default, Meg. How lazy to not personalize!

What do you do when LinkedIn says you may know someone you probably don’t (but might like to)?

I’ll check them out. If they have a good profile, I’ll likely send them an invitation to connect and say that LinkedIn introduced us.

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