How to Connect Professionally on LinkedIn

By Nigel Cliffe

Read Time

All too many times when I receive an invitation to connect on LinkedIn with someone I have not met I receive this request:

Hi Nigel,

I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn



My first reaction is, err, no, not really, but without exception I always take a second look.

I often go on to connect with such a request, but not always. Here’s why.

I’m walking down the street and some random person stops me to ask for my contact details and forces their CV into my folded arms. They don’t even start with a ‘hello’. I look them up and down and quickly walk on.

How rude, I think. What the hell….

Another time I walk down the street and someone looks me warmly in the eyes and says Nigel, how nice to see you, I was hoping I’d bump into you today as I’ve got something that I think may really interest you. By the way, how’s George?

I stop to listen and am genuinely pleased to be recognised.

Why is it then that online our typical habits change. Is it the greyness of the keyboard that goads us into non-descriptiveness, or a ploy to add connection numbers? Or is it just darn laziness?

Whichever it might be – it is simply not good enough.

I consider my upbringing for a moment – always taught to say my pleases and thankyous and palm off these poor approaches as, well, uneducated. Ah, there’s a thought, what if people don’t know what to do? Now you have no excuse – here is how to connect on LinkedIn – the proper way.

NEVER use LinkedIn’s invitation, wherever it occurs, to connect with someone on LinkedIn. As soon as you do the horse will have bolted – the annoying invitation will have been sent. Your manners out of the window at the click of an icon.  And most certainly NEVER use the facility for LinkedIn to check to see who you might know that might be on LinkedIn that you are already connected to (via Google, Facebook, Twitter etc). That will decision will spam your whole network and irritate hundreds, if not thousands of people, all at once. Some to the point of questioning your sanity* (*You may already be connected to them on LinkedIn with another email address. Unfortunately the LinkedIn algorithm is not quite clever enough, yet at least, to know that. So your best friend just thinks you are a jerk)

No, the CORRECT way to connect is to view the person’s profile page and do one of two things:

1) Simply hit ‘Connect’ and be presented with a dropdown menu of ways in which you might already be connected to someone – a colleague, a friend, a classmate etc. Being in a Group together is a very valuable option here [Advanced Tip :)] But NEVER default to ‘Friend’ if you aren’t – that is almost certainly likely to lead to rejection.


2) Use the ‘Send XXXX InMail’ option to ask for the privilege of a connection.

Then – don’t hit send yet, delete the auto-complete message of:

‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’…

…and instead, add your own introduction, such as:

Hey [name], I’d love to add you to my network on linkedIn, […here’s why….]

I really hope we can follow our online connection with a face to face meeting and look forward to speaking to you.

Best regards,


..Yes, imagine that, picking up the telephone to actually speaking to someone!

The reason is this. Why do you wish to connect with someone at all if there is no purpose in the connection? No reason to wish to speak to them? LinkedIn is a ‘Business to Business’ social media platform, not a numbers game. Your connections are and should be treated like a valuable asset. Linking those you know at the same gaming table as those you don’t simply undermines the quality of your ‘real’ connections. Why would you want to do that?

So, next time you are tempted to take the shortcut – think twice. Do the right thing.

Lastly, why do I sometimes go on to connect with these people? Usually because I’ve taken the trouble to reply to their request and ask why they might like to connect with me? Fifty percent of the time they never even reply! The other fifty percent they send a long, slightly embarrassed reply back, explaining in full why they might like to connect with me. And most often I accept and a new relationship begins. Never accept a connection request just because it has been sent to you.

Off you go now, you have no excuse to ever be rude again!

Find Out more

On how I can help you turn your Linkedin profile into multiple opportunities in a few hours.

    Interested in