LinkedIn Connections: ‘Will you be my friend?’

LinkedIn – Will you be my friend?

‘Will you be my friend?’

I can remember being asked this question in the ‘Cage’. This was the name of the school playground at my primary school. It was an invitation from a classmate (someone I knew) to interact, participate in our friendship groups, help each other going forward.

As the recipient of the invitation, I was being given the option to accept or to politely decline…



Social media – just like the ‘Cage’

In today’s world of social media, this question from my days in the Cage is being asked in the adult community millions of times every day. LinkedIn, being a business-oriented platform, calls them ‘connections’ rather than friends.

LinkedIn - potential contacts
Potential contacts through LinkedIn

Looking at my LinkedIn profile today, I have 645 ‘first line’ connections which means I have asked – or been asked – to connect 645 times. According to LinkedIn, this number links me to a further 200,569 people; my ‘second line’ connections. Quite an awesome thought if they all decided to invite me to connect!

Where have the 645 first line connections come from?

Just like your own, these connections could have come from a variety of sources.

In my particular case, they are made up of:

  1. Business associates/contacts from any point of my career
  2. Networking
  3. LinkedIn groups
  4. ‘Second line’ connections/introductions and referrals
  5. Blogging/comments on other people’s blogs
  6. My Twitter, Google+, Facebook profiles
  7. My Best of Henley feature
  8. Personal friends and family
  9. Personal social life/drinks parties
  10. Children’s school
  11. Local organisations
  12. Volunteering/participating in local activities
  13. Mutual interests/hobbies

Incoming LinkedIn invitations (Will you be my friend?)

Does the ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn’ invitation leave you stone cold when you receive them?

Without a warm message to explain who they are, where you might have met them (if you have) and why they want to connect you might feel inclined to adopt a “Who are they?/Why should I?/What’s in it for me?” attitude when you are invited to connect.

Just taking my own connection sources by way of an example, I might ask myself:

  • Are we connected through group activity?
  • Are they one of my 200,569 second line connections?
  • Have they found me on Twitter?
  • Have they found me through the UK Blog Awards?  
  • Do they like my blog activity or have seen my ‘Writer meets…’ blog profiles?
  • Are they a parent at my children’s school?
  • Have I met them at a networking event?

Outgoing LinkedIn Invitations – Tell ‘em “What’s in it for them”

Connection invitation to Barack Obama
LinkedIn invitation to Barack Obama

The trick is to save potential connections the bother of going through this mental process, by explaining

  • who you are
  • where you have met them (if you have) or how you found their profile and
  • why you want to connect

In my experience, sending and receiving personalised LinkedIn invitations is so much warmer. Outgoing and incoming connections are accepted almost immediately, and the relationship starts off on a more understandable footing. The invitation above from a graphic designer to Barack Obama illustrates the point beautifully!

You might like to try your own variations on the following examples.

1. Hi Tom
We met at the networking event in Henley. I loved hearing about your blogging business. I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn if that’s all right with you.
With thanks, Lindsay

2. Hi Dick
We both know Tom White. He has recommended I get in touch as we both operate in the digital marketing sector and there could be opportunities to collaborate. Would you like to connect?
With thanks, Lindsay

3. Hi Harry
I found you on Twitter, and just love your blog posts. I would like to connect so we can share great content.
With thanks, Lindsay


Unlike the children in the playground, where you knew the ‘source’ of the invitation, giving and receiving connection requests that explain the circumstances are far more likely to be accepted. The rules of the ‘playground’ game are the same in social media; the invitation is still to interact, participate in each other’s social media community and to support each other going forward. However, the scale and the sources are quite different. If you would like the recipient to accept the LinkedIn invitation more readily, they need to understand where it is coming from and why it is being made.


If you have a LinkedIn profile and need help in understanding why LinkedIn is so important to your business or crucial to your career search, feel free to get in touch. I run a 90 minute 1-1 training presentation to help clients get the most out of LinkedIn. Thank you.

Photo credit: edenpictures / Foter / CC BY, Photo credit: Jana Harper / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND, Photo credit: pursuethepassion / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA, Photo credit: Inmobiliaria Lares, Cangas / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND


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Lindsay McLoughlin has a love affair with social media. She combines these tools to great effect with her other big love – blogging! She runs a copywriting, blogging, editing and proofreading service at She loves talking to and interacting with anyone that will “listen” over social media. Check out her blog at or connect with her on social media. She’d be delighted!

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12 Responses to LinkedIn Connections: ‘Will you be my friend?’

    • Thank you, Vanessa. It’s interesting; I had not actually thought of connection requests via LinkedIn from people who I do not immediately recognise as spam, but I take your point. My preference every time is to send/receive personalised requests, although I do know that when people use the mobile apps they are not given the option to personalise. Again, thank you for your comments.

  1. This is a very good idea Lindsay, and I am trying to follow this advice but sometimes when LinkedIn suggest possible connections for you you just do not get this option! It just has a button “connect” and when you press it you get a message “invitation send”. However there might be a way around this which I don’t know…

    • Hi Daria – Thank you for commenting on my blog. Yes, you are right. When you use the app versions of LinkedIn, you are not given the option. Also, when you are looking at the ‘People you may know’ suggestions on LinkedIn, you are again not given the option. When you press ‘connect’ the automatic message is transmitted. However, it is my feeling that seeking connections through the person’s profile and sending personalised requests is a much warmer way to go… I hope this helps. Thanks once again for your comments.

  2. Useful blog post, Lindsay – thank you. I just wish LinkedIn provided an opportunity to personalise invitations without having to select the Friend option under ‘How do you know…’ as it does not seem appropriate for a business connection.
    Nikki Ochtman would like you to read This is RG10My Profile

    • Hi Nikki – Thank you for commenting on the blog. Lovely to hear from you. Just to say… You can personalise invitations on LinkedIn. If you go to the person’s profile and press ‘connect’, you are taken to another screen that gives you the option to personalise. Much nicer..!

  3. If you were a really efficient networker you would immediately search out the interesting people you had recently met and invite them to connect on LinkedIn. I’m afraid we are all party to negligence in this area, and I’m sure my collection could be a lot bigger and therefore potentially more profitable if I had.

    The next thing is to regularly keep in touch with your LinkedIn connections. How? Well, you could take advantage of the LinkedIn blogging service on offer, which would automatically send your information to your connections. What a fabulous alternative to a newsletter, which can sometimes be ignored or looked over.
    Alice Elliott would like you to read Magic Moment: Connecting to GoogleMy Profile

    • Thank you, Alice. As a general rule, I send connection requests to people I meet on the networking circuit within 1-2 days of meeting them, while the meeting is still fresh in their minds… ‘Great meeting you at XXX. Wondered if you would like to connect?’ etc. Have to confess to my heart sinking a little if I find they are not on LinkedIn(!)

      Thanks also for flagging up the LinkedIn blogging service. I was aware of it but – given your recommendation – I will dig a little deeper.

      Thanks for commenting. Keep up with the blogging. Love reading your posts.

  4. Thanks Lindsay for a very good article. I absolutely agree and generally ignore requests from people who dont personalise the invite and make it relevant. (It amazes me how many people who are in a Bus Dev role fall foul of this! They must have really low conversion rates!)The other thing that I, and many others I speak to, are guilty of is not regularly re-contacting those they’ve already connected to. That is going to be a core part of my marketing plan from now on.

    • Thank you, Grainne. Glad you liked the article. In my LinkedIn training sessions, I try to encourage people to personalise their connection invitations. It works so much better. I receive requests daily from people seeking to connect, and it’s a bit arbitrary as to whether or not I accept. However, if they are in the local area or they are connected to someone I know I probably would, but I still wish they would indicate why they are seeking to connect. As for your second point, I think this is the Holy Grail! I do wonder what we did without social media!

  5. Thanks Lindsay for your article. I’ve got a question for you:

    Some people seem to want to connect to you just to have one more connection. When I look at their profiles and see they could be potential people to get connect to, I confirm and ask afterward, “How can I be of any help?” I usually, get no response. Shall I keep these people in my list?
    Rahman Mehraby would like you to read Return of 300 Antique Iranian Objects from BelgiumMy Profile

    • Hi Rahman – Thank you for responding to my article. In response to your questions, I am not sure that to ask how you can help is the right way forward.

      I tend to apply the “favour test” by looking at the person’s profile. If I can see a reason to accept eg. location, shared interests, mutual connections, I will accept on the basis that there is a (could be remote) chance I might want to do a favour for this person or the other way round. ie. We could possibly help each other. I would not actually ask if I can be of any help as it might take the reader aback. I would generally right to say happy to accept the connection and email to ask how they knew me and what it was that made them want to connect. If you accept the connection without reaching out then, yes, it is a numbers game. I hope this helps!

      I see I have a connection request from you. Thank you and happy to accept!

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