Why you should never use LinkedIn’s default connection request

A key element of the enormous value of LinkedIn is that it provides you with a platform for a targeted job search.

Ten years ago, it was much, much harder to find people who were working for your dream employer.

Today, you can find those people in a few seconds. LinkedIn gives you a means to contact them and begin to build a professional relationship.

But…you realise you’re not the only person who’s going to be contacting them, don’t you?

You realise they’re probably getting connection requests every day, right?

Especially if they work for a great company that lots of people would like to work for.

So it’s vital that your approach is as professional and engaging as possible.

Your first impression

The very first impression your target will have of you is from your connection request. I’ve written before about Jim Lecinski’s Winning the Zero Moment of Truth concept and how it applies to job seekers.

Well, the connection request is your Zero Moment of Truth.

How do you want your prospective connections to perceive you?

As someone who just hit the blue Connect button without more than half a second’s thinking?

Or do you want them to understand something about you and WHY you want to be connected?

Keep in mind that you will have no idea of this person’s personal policy on which connection requests they accept. Now I personally accept every connection request, because it’s valuable to me to have a very large network on LinkedIn.

But your target might see their LinkedIn network very differently. They might only connect to people they’ve worked with or who they actually know.

So you should always assume that you need to persuade them that you’re worthy of connection.

Beyond the default request

LinkedIn’s default connection request says “I’d like to add you to my network on LinkedIn”.

Now that’s perfectly polite. But because it’s the default, if you use it then it means you’ve put no thought into the request. It looks like you don’t care whether or not they accept.

Plenty of people tell me that they don’t connect on principle when they get the default request.

Well, you can’t afford to have your connection request refused, because you want to build that professional relationship that I talked about earlier. You know, the relationship where this person provides you with advice and insight that helps you land your dream role with this amazing company!

So you’re going to put a lot of effort into your connection request. You’re going to read your target’s profile closely and glean information that SHOWS you’ve read it.

You only have 300 characters (with spaces) for a connection request, so you need to make every word count.

Here are two examples:

Hi Joe, I saw your profile when researching [company]. I was glad to see you’re a civil engineer like me as I’d love to join the team there in a project role. I hope you’ll accept my connection as I’d like to know more about opportunities at [company]. Kind regards, Fred Smith

Hi Joe, I saw your profile when researching [company]. I’m looking to join a company like yours where I can use my skills in IT transformation to deliver massive cost savings. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Kind regards, Fred Smith

Those two examples are 277 and 256 characters respectively so you can see there’s plenty of scope to create a message that is personalised to the recipient AND gives some key information about you.

You’ll dramatically increase your connection acceptances when you use a personalised message. And you’ll open the door to an exchange of information with someone who’s already working for your employer of choice. How good is that?!

Sending a quality connection request is an important part of your outreach program, so make sure you take the time to get it right.

By the way, if you do accidentally click that blue button and it sends a default request to someone, you can withdraw the request. Go immediately to your Inbox and click on Sent mail. Click in the subject line and it will give you the option to withdraw, without notifying the other person. Phew!

I’m sending you my best wishes for your job search success.


Richard Triggs is the Founder and Managing Partner of Arete Executive, one of Australasia’s leading executive recruitment companies. He has championed the practice of helping people to “headhunt their own job” and you can find more advice about this in his book Uncover the Hidden Job Market (available from Amazon). You can also subscribe to Arete’s newsletter for useful information and resources. Follow Arete Executive on LinkedIn.

Richard has an organically built network of over 25,000 connections on LinkedIn and you are warmly invited to connect with him.

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