LinkedIn Invitations: All of Your Questions Answered

LinkedIn Invitations: All of Your Questions Answered

If you’re like most professionals these days, you have a LinkedIn account. While it used to be primarily a job hunting site on steroids, these days LinkedIn is an important place to see and be seen. In addition, many sales professionals use LinkedIn to find, and reach out to, decisionmakers. To accomplish these goals, though, you need to grow your network. This means sending out, and receiving, LinkedIn invitations.

Since LinkedIn invitations, and thus the connections that result from them, are the heart of what makes LinkedIn the world’s largest social network for professionals, understanding the potential for – and potentially dangers of – sending a LinkedIn invitation.

What is a LinkedIn Invitation?

Simply put, invitations are how you make connections on LinkedIn. Equivalents on other social networks include friend requests on Facebook. These have one major purpose: unlike some other places online, LinkedIn members are given a choice about who sees all their information, and who they are connected with. This helps to preserve privacy, especially since most of us have what amounts to an entire resume on our LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn invitations have another purpose: when you get new members of your network, they can give you a level of access to their own connections. Depending on their privacy settings and your account type, this can be everything from the most basic info all the way to contact privileges. Plus, with a LinkedIn introduction, you can expand your network even further. If you’re a sales or marketing professional, this information and access is a goldmine.

Further Reading: Top 10 Ways How to Get More Connections on LinkedIn

How Do Invitations Work on LinkedIn?

It’s simple: You send a LinkedIn invitation to the person that you want to connect with, and if they accept your LinkedIn invitation, you become 1st degree connections with each other. As a first-degree connection, you can message each other and post on each other’s pages. Of course, as with anything else LinkedIn it’s important to keep it professional. After all, everything you do reflects on you from a professional standpoint. This reflection goes both ways, between connections.

Once you’ve become a connection with someone, there are several steps you should perform that will cement your relationship. They will also help both of you get the most out of being connections with someone. For instance, each new connection expands your horizons and gives other people an opportunity to see what you’re all about.

How Do I Invite Someone on LinkedIn?

Like many other kinds of professional introduction, you may be a bit nervous about sending a LinkedIn invitation. One reason for this is that, although the introduction is made online it isn’t exactly informal like you’d have at a conference mixer. The person isn’t a visitor or new employee at your workplace, either. With that said, there are two ways to make a LinkedIn introduction.

1) Invite people you know in bulk by going to My Network and then clicking on your number of connections.

There is a widget on the right that will say “Add personal contacts” and clicking there will take you to the Import Contacts screen where you can synch with your email database and import your contacts and send them all LinkedIn invites at once. This is easy. After all, you already have some kind of relationship with the people in your email contacts. In addition, the process is relatively impersonal.

If you see the below image you’re on the right track!

import your contacts to LinkedIn to send them LinkedIn invitations and grow your network

2) The other way is by going to someone’s profile and clicking the “Connect” button under their profile photo.

If you only see a “Follow” button, you should see a “Connect” option by selecting “More.” From here, sending a LinkedIn invitation is more personal. While it’s possible to click “send” without a comment, it’s a much better idea to introduce yourself. One reason for this is that it’s more obvious that you aren’t spamming that person, but instead have a genuine interest in the relationship.

Here’s the thing: there’s more to a LinkedIn invitation these days than there used to be. Although professionals of all types can benefit from having plenty of connections, the benefits vary from one person to another. In addition, there are lots of problems these days with spammers and scammers making everyone’s lives miserable. You don’t want people to think that you’re one of them, even if you are trying to sell something. For that reason, you need to convince people to accept the invite.

How Do I Write a LinkedIn Invitation That Others Will Accept?

It’s all about WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). If they don’t know you, what is the benefit of their connecting with you? That being said, LinkedIn is a professional network where people are looking for opportunities both for their careers as well as their current corporate responsibilities, so use that to your advantage to entice people to accept by offering them your help, advice, offers of introduction, networking – show that you are a giver and not there to sell them anything and your chances of having an invite that is accepted are greater.

Also remember to only invite those for who you have a lot of mutual connections for. Only invite 2nd degree connections and start with a minimum threshold of mutual connections to invite from. People might look at who your mutual connections and decide on accepting your invite based on that number, so make sure you strategize your invites by sending it to those most likely to accept!

Why is this so critical? There’s an old saying: it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know. While most people think of this in terms of getting a job, it also goes with getting your LinkedIn invitation accepted. So, if you have mutual connections then you’ll have a lot of social proof when you send the invite.

Further Reading: How to Network on LinkedIn from an Inbound and Outbound Perspective

An Actual LinkedIn Invite Template I Use:

There are many automation tools that spammers leverage to try to over-personalize their LinkedIn invitations that you can tell have been automated. I recommend keeping invites simple to why you are reaching out to them and what’s in it for them. People can smell the “after you connect with me I will ask for a sales call” invite messages from a mile away, so keep it simple and try to leverage commonality and a friendly a nature that shows you are not going to bombard them with messages should they accept your invite.

Here is the actual LinkedIn invite template that I have most recently used for you to emulate.

Hey {first name],

I am always looking to connect with other [subject matter / industry] pros to learn from and potentially collaborate with for your consideration.

– Neal

When you think about it, this invite is similar to the “hi, I’m Neal, I heard you spent some time in Japan. Me too” kind of introduction at a party or conference mixer.  The conversation at my party might evolve into a discussion of sushi, the coolest museum in Tokyo, and my favorite ferry ride. This would happen long before any talk of professional services for either of us. We might even just exchange business cards and be open to that talk another day. Either way, it’s relationship first.

What is the LinkedIn Invitation Limit?

Only 100 in a week now because of spammers using automated tools. These sent out a lot of random LinkedIn invitations, private messages, and other commercial material. LinkedIn has never liked these, since they discourage the use of paid LinkedIn services. Since this network has a relatively low amount of advertising by design, this loss of revenue is a major consideration.

With that said, the 100-invite weekly limit is a blessing in disguise. For most people like myself, the automated invites were a major pain in the neck. Just like the old-fashioned spam from before filters and Gmail folders. Luckily, by building relationships with prospects we can boost our chances of a LinkedIn invitation turning into a sale.

Why is LinkedIn Requiring Me to Enter an Email Address to Invite People?

LinkedIn places restrictions on you if you receive too many IDK responses. Simply put, this is when a member responds to your LinkedIn invitation by saying that they don’t know you. Once you’ve accumulated five of these, you’ll need to give an email. This is a measure that LinkedIn has put in place to try and minimize spam. And, before the invite limit, it was the biggest disincentive to blindly send invites.

Another reason for this restriction is that some people want extra privacy. To that end, a member can request this safeguard. Think of this as similar to turning your privacy settings way up on Facebook. If someone is a frequent target of spam and shameless plugs, it’s easy to see them making this choice. Either way, be careful about who you send a LinkedIn invitation to. Getting an account restriction isn’t fun!

Further Reading: What is a LinkedIn IDK? And Why Should I Care?

How to Withdraw a LinkedIn Invitation?

If you read the above and are freaked out that you might have invited a lot of irrelevant people that might respond with an “IDK,” you might want to withdraw your invite. Also, it is thought that your account might face some restrictions if you have a ton of invites that no one has responded to. For this reason, there might come a time when you want to withdraw a LinkedIn invitation. Here’s how to go about doing so:

  1. Go to My Network
  2. Assuming you have responded to all of your invite requests, it will say “No pending invitations” at the top and then to the right of this, it will say “Manage.” Click on that.
  3. You’ll then see a screen that says, “Manage Invitations” and you’ll see the default “Received” tab. Click on the “Sent” tab instead.
  4. From there you will see a list of all of your invites that have yet to respond, with a note as to how long ago you invited them. There’s also a “Withdraw” button to the right of each profile name. Clicking that button will withdraw your invitation.

Note that you can’t withdraw your invite in bulk, only one by one. For that reason, it’s always a smart idea to not send a LinkedIn invitation unless you think there’s a decent chance the person will accept.

Also note that if you withdraw an invitation, you won’t be able to resend to that same person for up to 3 weeks. For that reason, make sure you’re certain that the withdrawal is appropriate. Your time is too valuable to withdraw and have to wait.

Should I Accept LinkedIn Invitations from People I Don’t Know?

This all depends on your objective for being on LinkedIn. If you believe in the power of networking, and the request comes from someone that might prove of value because they are in the same industry, profession, location, etc. then it might be worth it. In other words, do you foresee an opportunity to reach out to this person for any reason over the next couple of years? If so, you should accept.

Also, did they go out of their way to personalize their message in a meaningful and relevant way? This indicates a genuine interest in working with you. Spammers don’t have the time to do this, even with automation. In addition, sales professionals typically use canned “personalization.” If you need sales professionals around you, go for it. But for most of us, too many results in lots of wasted time.

Finally, just as many look at your mutual connections when you send an invite, looking at their mutual connections is another data point you can take when considering whether or not to accept a LinkedIn invite. Having a lot of mutual connections means that you probably “walk in the same circles” and thus feels safer to connect.

On the other hand, if you get an invite request from someone with no personal message, zero mutual connections, and no potential affinity in terms of work or location, by all means don’t feel like you need to accept the invite! You can always ignore the invite rather than sending a dreaded IDK.

Knowing how and when to send a LinkedIn invitation is important. After all, LinkedIn connections are important to professional development and network building. At the same time, nobody wants to have a bunch of irrelevant spammers and unwanted sales pitches. Learn how to manage these conflicting priorities, and you’ll get a high-quality network that is beneficial to everyone.

Further Reading: You’ve Connected on LinkedIn. Now What?

Hero photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.
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