LinkedIn Invitation Secrets

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 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 except 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 e-mail. 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 two 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!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Joshua Waldman

Author of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies, Joshua is recognized as the authority for helping people find work using social media. His blog,, won the 2013 Reader's Choice award for best career blog for original content.


  1. Additional methods for connecting with people you don’t know, include: 1) join a group someone has listed on her/his profile, then you can select the “shared group” option, 2) select “colleague” if someone is in your current or prior industry and then choose the particular job you’ve had that best matches, and 3) rather than request a connection, send a brief message explaining your actual interest, such as “I would enjoy speaking with you regarding your experience working at ____ “or, I would like to know if you would be interested in speaking to a networking group I facilitate, about _____” (the person usually connects and sometimes addresses the reason you asked to connect, in the first place; once connected, you can further explore your initial request, as appropriate.)

  2. Hi Joshua –

    I am working my way through your book and I do find it helpful. I wanted to ask about this line form the blog post above:
    “We’ve all experienced the frustration of sending out a LinkedIn invitation and getting ignored. Even though I consider this bad LinkedIn etiquette, people are busy or uninitiated.” Why is it bad etiquette to ignore someone you have never met who suddenly sends you a friend request? With the amount of Spam and virus attacks through social media, can you really blame someone for ignoring a request form someone? Also, you comment on someone else’s post above about being a bit judgmental, but isn’t your statement from the blog judgmental of people who choose not to accept or respond to every LinkedIn request?

    I like your work and I think I understand the tactics being used to get one’s foot in a door, but on the flip side, doesn’t the person on the other side of the door have rights as well?

    It’s a very thought provoking post and I look forward to reading more.

    Thanks for your time and your work.

  3. I disagree with these. I (and many people I know) will not accept a LinkedIn connect request from anyone they do not know personally. If you want to connect with someone who is a connection of someone you know, ask them to introduce you. If the person you want to connect with has absolutely no other connection to you, pony up the monthly fee to get the “InMail” feature so you can email them. I did that when I was job searching and used it a few times. Or, look for them in other social media sphere like Twitter or Facebook where it can be easier to connect.

  4. I was successful in landing a new job following the advice from I will continue to encourage others to do the same. This advice includes being truthful when connecting to people in LinkedIn. You can build your network by asking others to introduce you to new people, rather than pretending to know them.

  5. To build a connection with someone unknown, friend is the only option on LInked-In that will send the invitation. All other options, require information that for the most part is unknown. I have developed hundreds of connections using the friend option, and I doubt that any regret accepting my invitation. Our connection has been mutually beneficial and I do not annoy connections with “Farmville” or “Candy Crush” requests , I know they are Facebook apps, just making a point. What I do include , is a bit of a personal note telling why I’d like to connect , which is for the purpose of doing business. I’d say roughly 75% +/- accept.

  6. First, thanks for the comments. It’s nice to hear what people are thinking (and feeling).

    Second, this is a job search blog. This article is for job seekers. Not marketing. Not business development. Not sales. You can’t look at LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter and just say, “That’s the right way, that’s the wrong way”. You need to have a strategy and know what you’re trying to get out of the tool.

    Social media is a tool. What matters is why you are using it.

    Job seekers, never take advice from someone who isn’t aware of how recruiters use LinkedIn…who gives out generic advice that is not tailored specifically for your use of the tool. Everyone seems to have an opinion about these things, very few people offer statistics or research to back it up.

    As clearly stated in the article, this is a work-a-round for limitations LinkedIn puts in place, as discovered by someone who uses this technique successfully. LinkedIn’s limitations are designed to get you to pay. And for many job seekers, paying is a problem (though it’s clearly not a problem for some of these commenters! Perhaps you want to sponsor some desperately poor job seekers LinkedIn subscriptions?).

    This article is written in the spirit of job-search-hacking, like lifehacking, bodyhacking and such. If you use LinkedIn for other things than job search, leave it alone. But if you’re a job seeker who wants to grow your network without having to pay for a subscription, use it. (Hence why this article appears on a job search blog!)

    For job seekers wishing to get found by recruiters, there is a very strong argument for having a large network. In particular, a network filled with recruiters. This increases your chances of showing up on search results, which are filtered by degree of separation.

    Teddy’s advice works for him for whatever he’s doing in life, which, by the way is NOT job seeking. He’s a social media consultant and trainer who helps business with their marketing. And his advice works for him as a business consultant. (I’m not sure why he’s commenting on a job search blog…)

    Some facts about job search that might cause you to use LinkedIn differently than if you used it for business:
    1. recruiters LOVE having job seekers in their network, the more the better, it doesn’t matter if they know you or not. It makes their jobs easier.
    2. the larger your network, the better chances you have of showing up on search results. This is good news as a job seeker, someone using LinkedIn marketing or sales might not really care as much.
    3. employers judge you by your network size. Sorry, but size matters. Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m reporting back what many employers and recruiters have told me in my 5 years or researching this.
    4. Job seekers have tight budgets. You might not want to drop the $24/month since you can’t right it off like a business owner or sales person can. So you find work-a-rounds. Big deal!

    So do not confuse Ethics with Strategy. Be smart. Understand the context here. Be compassionate for people looking for work. They don’t need your judgment. Make up your mind based on actual research, not someone’s opinion.

    • Picking “Friend” opens up the the email field. Simple.
      When you Like a Facebook post of your best friend’s mom going to the ER, you aren’t liking the fact that your friends mom is sick. You’re using the options available to you on Facebook to acknowledge their situation.
      Picking the Friend option on LinkedIn, again, is used to be able to enter an email address, and thus connect.
      If you don’t know their email address, you can’t connect with them anyways.
      It is not a lie, it’s an option on a form.

      • I may see where you are coming from now Joshua. I recommend using “Other” instead of “Friend” for connecting when you have the email address.

        If you are being asked for an email address when you select “Friend”, it’s because you have made too many connect requests using Friend that have been ignored or worse yet, Marked as “I do not know this person” by the person who you sent the request to.

        LinkedIn tracks the number of requests that are sent that are ignored, deleted or marked as “I do not know this person” (I forget the exact words). If you get tagged too often, LinkedIn will force you to always use an Email address. The next step from LinkedIn is to shut you down from making any new connections. This sucks.

        I know this, because I experienced it years ago when I tried to connect with people I did not know and who do not know me. I even got shut down from making any connections until after I requested “forgiveness” from LinkedIn.

        These issues are why I teach to not use Friend unless the person you are asking to connect with knows you as a real Friend.

        For the purposes of this thread I should inform the readers, I am an experienced recruiter and a Certified Transition Coach (two agencies) and 50% of my business is helping 100s of unemployed people every week on their job search journey. I now do this work as a volunteer because I love helping people to find jobs, which can only really be done thru good Networking and Social Media engagement. I only comment on Networking and Social Media conversations on Careerealism because this is my specialty. I blog about Job Search, Social Media and Recruiting and have numerous books on these subjects. Book #2 – Success on Social Media is due out this fall.

        Thanks for engaging in a good discussion.

    • I don’t. Please read my response.
      Furthermore, I’m sharing a technique one of my blog readers uses. Why are you judging him so harshly?

      I’m more interested in creating a space of dialogue, not judgment and criticism.

  7. I get several “naked” requests weekly and I have no moral dilemma in rejecting them if I don’t know this person or don’t have a connection. People are in my network because I trust them and they trust me. Sending a “naked” request without taking the time to know me and for me to know them is simply a way to increase someone’s network without providing me any added value. It’s just wrong and I I don’t worry about rejecting people’s request to join my network when they haven’t even taken the opportunity to know me. Very poor advice from this author.

  8. Michael tellekamp

    LinkedIn is a great tool for building professional and personal relationships. How is lying and using someone for their contacts going to build a relationship? When do you get to the part about me benefiting from linking to you? I would not want to work with someone who thinks this is ok. Bad ethics and judgement.

  9. LinkedIn is truly an invaluable career and job search tool, but like any other social network, you have to be proactive when using it. It’s alright to connect with people you don’t know, but like the other commenters have noted, ideally that person has a mutual connection with you who can introduce you. All you have to do is reach out to your mutual connection (via email or phone call) to ask if they would be willing introduce you to your desired connection. If they agree, you can obtain their email address and send the LinkedIn request.

  10. Very Bad suggestion. The article speaks for itself in that as it says one thing “be transparent” and then tells us to lie. I would follow the advice from, much more honest and productive in use of social media.

  11. I agree with Teddy Burriss using the “friend” button is an end run around LinkedIn protocol; I am taken aback when someone I have never met (face-to-face or online) claims to be my “friend,” and I think it is cutting corners, if not outright lazy. Do give the other person the time of day by finding a group you both are part of (join one of theirs if you don’t already have one in common), then invite them to connect using the group option.

    Then again, I agree with both Joshua and Teddy in that I am a big fan of the personalized invite. A generic invite makes you look like the other person isn’t really worth your time of day, and also makes you look like a connections mill. Especially when you already have 500+ connections, the other person may wonder if blasting generic invites was how you ever got that many connections, and how meaningful they really are.

    There is a 300-character limit to the personalized note in a LinkedIn invite. That’s two Tweets and some change. Someone you want to add to your LinkedIn network should be worth two Tweets of your time, right?

  12. The advise would not result in the LinkedIn request being accepted by me. I can’t imagine anyone using this adviceunless they were just out to build their LinkedIn numbers. However, people who pose as “friends” and people who say they are “new to the area” won’t be building an honest or effective network. I am disappointed in CareerRealism for posting this segment. It shows poor discernment.

  13. I do not agree with the information suggested in this article. Being an individual currently seeking new employment and utilizing LinkedIn a lot, I find the direction given here to be counter productive and more likely to be “ignored”. Step 2: Be Totally Transparent – to me this means 100% honesty yet Hugh Knight goes on and tells you to lie. Lie #1: select “friend” when sending a LinkedIn invitation even if you are not. Lie #2: “I am new to the area and am wanting to build my network.” even if you are not. Good way to get off on the wrong foot with a new connection should your less than honest approach come to light. The only point I agree with in this article is that invitations should be personalized but only if done so honestly. Mr. Knight, you should be ashamed.

  14. I do not agree with these steps what so ever. Never ask for someone to help you (by giving you names of their contacts) until you have “Permission.”

    NCWiseman has great advise and ways to set your self up for success using LinkedIn, not failure.

  15. Good information up to the bonus. With a new contact, especially one that you do not know, I would not start right off asking them to do your work for you and send you a list of other possible good contacts.

  16. WRONG ANSWER – Please do not follow these instructions. It will set you up for long term failure.

    How can you in a section titled “Be Totally Transparent” instruct your readers to be dishonest, “When you send your invitation, LinkedIn asks you how you know this person. Pick “friend,” even if you don’t know them.” and then in the next sentence say, “Hugh highly recommends a 100% transparency policy when reaching out.”

    Never, I MEAN NEVER, send a linkedin connection request to someone you do not know. Find a way for them to know you.
    I use the instructions from NCWiseman –

    The purpose of using LinkedIn is to make connections that turn into some level of a relationship so that you get permission to ask for some kind of help, either that next connection or an opportunity to talk about their business. Ultimately you hope the connection will develop further into a mutually beneficial relationship so that you can discuss possible job or business opportunities.

    Sending LinkedIn connection requests to people who do not know you is not a good first step toward building an online relationship that can help you.

    Furthermore, LinkedIn clearly tells you in the instructions, “Only invite people you know well and who know you.”

    Giving instructions to be less than honest and to connect with people you do not know is totally irresponsible as a coach, trainer, instructor or person. Teach your clients, students and readers to be authentic and honest.

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

    How is this good advice !?
    If there’s one thing more likely to hack me off it’s someone making contact on the premise that they are already a friend of mine. This approach is usually reserved for people in African countries in distress who need some cash quickly !

    Keep LinkedIn professional I say.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *