LinkedIn Best Practices: 5 Keys to the Perfect Invitation

Get Relationships Off to a Strong Start with a Well-Written LinkedIn Invitation

We all know that when we meet someone at a networking event, we want to put our best foot forward and make a favorable first impression.

5 Keys to the Perfect LinkedIn Invitation

That’s why we get self-conscious if we feel our palms are a bit sweaty or there might be a poppy seed stuck between our teeth. We know to give a friendly smile and a firm but not crushing handshake. We know not to invade the person’s private space by standing too close. And we know to communicate standard pleasantries like, “Hello” and “Nice to meet you.”

Yet when it comes to networking online, so much of that awareness of how you might be coming across goes out the window. Not for everybody, but it happens enough that I can’t stay quiet any longer.

Yes, the rant you’ve been waiting for…my personal pet peeve…the sloppy LinkedIn invitation.

How you introduce yourself for the first time to someone who doesn’t know you sets the stage for the relationship. Not that their impression can’t be changed, but that takes more work than doing things right the first time.

When you invite someone to connect with you on LinkedIn, you have the option of including a personal note with your invitation. Unfortunately LinkedIn pre-populates this field with a rather sterile introduction:

There’s no warmth, no personality, no indication that even a modicum of time or thought was invested. It looks like you were in a hurry, lazy or clueless, none of which is particularly appealing to people you want to do business with. Your invitation may still be accepted, but simply adding another connection to your LinkedIn profile really isn’t the point.

The point is to develop relationships. And a stamped out, cookie cutter, impersonal invitation like the one above is not a good way to start.

The sad thing is that it doesn’t take a lot of extra time or thought to stand out in a positive way. There are only five things you need to do. Not a hundred, just five, so there’s absolutely no excuse:

  1. Say hello. You would do it in person, so why not do it here? Add two words to the beginning of the note such as “Hi Liz” or “Dear Liz.” This makes me feel like you’re addressing the note specifically to me.
  2. Add context. Your first sentence should be a brief explanation of why you want to connect. Something along the lines of “I saw you speak at last week’s event” or “I read your book” or “I see that we both know Marvin Jones.” Even “I saw your name pop up when I was logged in” is better than nothing.
  3. Introduce yourself. Describe what you do in your next sentence. DO NOT say, “Read my profile to learn what I do.” That’s just rude. If you’re the one making the initial contact, it’s YOUR job to give them the basic information. “I’m a systems engineer at Boeing” or “I’m a blogger and executive coach in San Diego.” Let people know who you are, and if they want to find out more, your profile is just a click away.
  4. Invite them to connect. I don’t have a big problem with the default sentence “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” IF the other four steps of this formula are followed. But while you’re personalizing things, why not personalize this sentence as well? One of my favorite ways is to say, “I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn and see how we can help each other.” Think about what would make it appealing for someone to accept your invitation.
  5. Add a closing sign off. Before your name, add a closing like “Best regards” or “Sincerely” or “Take care.” Something that you would include in any other note to a stranger whom you are trying to impress.

So what’s the benefit of taking the 10 extra seconds to do this, rather than leaving the default message as is?

First of all, you’ve stood out among all the other LinkedIn invitations your contact may have received that day or that week or that month, so you’re going to be remembered.

Second, you’ve left the impression that you’re friendly, polite and willing to go the extra mile.

And third, you’ve established that you’re interested in building a relationship rather than just increasing your number of connections. In other words, you’re about quality rather than quantity.

For a few extra seconds of your time, I’d say that’s a big return for your investment, wouldn’t you?

Liz Lynch is the author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person & Online, teaches entrepreneurs and professionals how to get 24/7 networking results WITHOUT the 24/7 effort. Get her FREE Smart Networking toolkit at


  1. Liz, thank you thank you thank you. I lead a workshop on LinkedIn and am forever preaching that you have to spell out why it’s in someone’s interests to connect with you on LinkedIn: make it easy to say yes.

  2. Bret Allan says:

    Hi Liz,
    I loved this article – you are spot on about this being a pet peeve. I am always disappointed when I receive the generic invitation from an old friend or colleague whom I haven’t spoken with in years … I mean really, at least tell me what you have been up to!

  3. OMG. That drives me insane. If I don’t already know the person that sends me that invitation automatically gets archived. People I know get some slack because at least I already know them. I mean how hard is it to say, “Hi my name is Joe and we met at so and so event.”? Okay rant over.

  4. Thank you, Liz!
    This is one of my pet peeves as well and I try to teach the process you’ve outlined above in my Social Media Marketing workshops.
    It truly only takes a few extra seconds, but makes a HUGE difference in how other perceive you and in furthering the relationship.
    Great advice (as usual)!

  5. Dear Liz,
    Great article!
    I am going to share it with my LinkedIn Groups Women in Ecommerce and HER Mastermind Network.
    The ideas are simple and yet so many people find it too much work to take these basic steps to create a good impression and lasting relationship.
    Thank you for sharing,
    Heidi Richards Mooney
    ps, if you have any articles you’d like to share on either of my sites, or women in ecommerce, feel free to send them to me.

  6. The biggest reason I have never joined LinkedIn is actually how offputting it is to receive the default LinkedIn invitation. Of more than 100 LinkedIn invitations I have received, maybe two were personalized at all. Huge turnoff for me!

  7. Joseph Athy says:

    Hi Liz,
    I thought your blog on the perfect invite was excellent and very practical! Would you consider advising us on another delicate area of Linked In namely, requesting Recommendations? I feel very conscientious about requesting other professionals to recommend me. I’m hoping you have insight on how to accomplish this in a respectful way. Thank you for your time and consideration. Best regards, Joseph Athy

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