3 Secrets to Sending a LinkedIn Invitation That Works Every Time

As so much in social media is trial and error, I was happy to receive some advice from a Career Enlightenment subscriber, Hugh Knight.

We’ve all experienced the frustration of sending out a LinkedIn connection invitation and getting ignored. Even though I consider this bad LinkedIn etiquette, people are busy or uninitiated. Hugh has found a great process for getting around this problem.

Step 1: Search for Related People

No, I don’t mean relatives. I mean people related to your field of interest. Use LinkedIn’s people search with targeted Keywords. In  Hugh’s example, he searched for people with the word “Sharepoint” in their profile.

Step 2: Be Totally Transparent

Too many people simply send off a LinkedIn invitation without personalizing it. I know some folks who categorically refuse to accept un-customized invitations.

When you send your invitation, LinkedIn asks you how you know this person. Pick “friend”, even if you don’t know them.

Hugh highly recommends a 100% transparency policy when reaching out. These new connections have very little knowledge of you accept for what you have in your note. So use the following phrase to make it clear why you want to connect.

I am new to the area and am wanting to build my network.

Step 3: Begin On Common Ground

If you notice anything in common with this person, be sure to mention it right away.

If you have a mutual connection, say “We have a mutual friend in (someone’s name).”

If you have a school in common, or anything else, mention it.

Bonus Tip: Leverage Your New Connection

When they accept your invite and it shows in your email. Follow up with this easy text:

Thank you so much for accepting my LinkedIn Profile invite. . . .. I would be interested in obtaining any suggestions or contacts that you think would be in line with my background and work experience.

Notice these 2 things with this note:

A. Beginning and ending thank you . ..
B. Asking for suggestions or contacts

Try this approach the next time you invite someone to your LinkedIn network, and tell me how it works for you!

Joshua Waldman is an Author, Speaker and Trainer specializing in helping people re-gain control of their careers in today’s economic and technology climate. As the author of “Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies”, he enjoys presenting keynotes and workshops on personal branding, online reputation and advanced LinkedIn strategy. With the mission of helping professionals break away from outdated and ineffective job-searching strategies, he runs CareerEnlightenment.com, a successful career blog. Joshua has been featured on ABC News, Mashable, International Business Times and Simply-Hired. For more information about Joshua or his book visit: http://careerenlightenment.com/book

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  1. Hi Joshua,

    Good article!

    Personally I would not recommend following up the way Hugh proposes. When just connected, people should first provide value for the person that accepted their invitation, and then ask for contacts. Asking right away for contact suggestions is not done… In my opinion.


  2. Hi Joshua, I enjoyed reading your article but wanted to get your thoughts on #2. “When you send your invitation, LinkedIn asks you how you know this person. Pick “friend”, even if you don’t know them.”

    If I don’t know someone and they have indicated they are a friend, I have to question their methods. This doesn’t seem to a way that I would want to employ to initiate a professional relationship.


    • Bobby,

      It’s an interesting point you make. Here’s my take.

      First, your main goal here is to find a job. So if you have to pick “friend” even though that may not be true in the strictest definition, I think it’s OK.

      Second, when people get invitations, it says in very small letters, “Bobby says he’s your friend”, the main part of the invite is, “Here’s why you should connect with Bobby”. In my opinion, I don’t think people pay much attention to how the new person is connected to them in the invitation.

  3. Item 2: I agree 100% with personalizing it. If you are too lazy to tell me why I should connect, then, why should I be ambitious enough to connect? HOWEVER, using the line “I am new and want to build my network” says “Hey you, gimme something, like a connection to all your people” – Yes, that is the desire, but wouldn’t something like “I’m new to the area and would like to connect to get your thoughts on where to start my job search” or something like that… Asking a person to show their intelligence while yield a much better response than just asking them to give you something.

    Item 3: This again is the result you want, but the reply should include an offer to do something for the person. “Do I have any contacts that might be beneficial for you?” or “Is there anything in the “area I am leaving” that would be a good connection for you”… Don’t make it ALL ABOUT YOU.. make an offer to help them and you will get a quicker and more solid connection.

    Just building a network is neither attractive nor really a big deal… it’s using the network and using it in the best way that people need to start practicing…

    Great topic.. I am REALLY sick of the DEFAULT INVITATIONS TO CONNECT.. yuk!!

    And I say this from over 30 years recruiting experience during 5 different decades — the game hasn’t changed, just some of the terms and vehicles are different .. it is all about connecting with other people for mutual benefit.

  4. Good article Joshua. I fully agree with making the connection request relevant and transparent.

    Relevance should be more than a word in your profiles or a mutual connection (unless that other person suggests the new connection). The relevance can business, community or some activity you are both involved in.

    Also, rather than ask for something in the next communication (LinkedIn message or Email), offer something mutually beneficial: “If I can help you or introduce you to someone else who can help you, please let me know. I look forward to sharing useful information thru our new connection.” (use your words)

    When this offer has been acknowledged by your new connection, you may then ask for anything relevant, even ideas or introductions to other relevant and transparent connections.


  5. I think you meant to offer the reader one example of how to create their first note to an LinkedIn someone whom they don’t know (even after checking the “friends” button). You advice reads to only respond using exact wording, which, of course, wouldn’t be transparent or honest, since it’s not the person’s own words. ; )

    If I may close with my opinion, I strongly agree on the core of this advice – just felt strongly about the aforementioned.

  6. I have to admit that I have been wishy-washy when it comes to my own connections on LinkedIn. My general feeling about networking is that quality matters over quantity. Ten strong connections can do more for you than 100 weak ones, especially if you take the time to nurture them and offer something in return. However, I have noticed within the last year or so this sense that a person with less than 500 connections is somehow not “connected.” I’ve even seen some people list their number of LI connections as an “employment statistic” on their resume! So, I’m all for making new “friends,” but I do feel that it is more than just about adding connections; if you want it to be effective, it requires maintenance.

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