LinkedIn Connection Requests: Why Keep Messing With a Good Thing?

LinkedIn questionI delivered a LinkedIn presentation last week and revealed 7 common mistakes made on the social platform. One of the questions asked was “Do you accept LinkedIn invites from people you don’t know or who you have never met?” It was the perfect lead in to one of the common mistakes I talk about – ignoring invitations.

When I receive a LinkedIn invitation from someone I don’t know, the first thing I do is see if they wrote a personalized message to me (sending a generic invite is another of the 7 common mistakes made). If they haven’t, then I “reply, but don’t accept” and I ask how they found me (i.e., were they referred or searching LinkedIn?).

However, LinkedIn is now “messing with our heads” and changing the landscape. When you go to your “Pending Invitations” you can scroll over the little bubble in the right hand corner of the invite to see what that person wrote in their message (see below).

Personalized LinkedIn invitation

Most often I find people have simply used LinkedIn’s generic invite with no attempt to personalize it. That’s when I like to use “reply, but don’t accept” – to reach out, engage, start a conversation.

For a brief moment last week, LinkedIn removed the “little bubble” and you couldn’t “reply, but don’t accept.” Several folks in one of the LinkedIn groups I’m in started posting “LinkedIn, what are you doing?” After all, this platform is about engaging in conversations and building relationships. If someone reaches out to you and you can’t see what’s in their connection request, you don’t want to blindly accept if you don’t know them – you want to find out more about them and why they’re reaching out to you.

So, LinkedIn why keep messing with a good thing?

This used to be really easy to do. Then, you changed it and made it hard for people to even find this function. We adjusted and now, you go and change it up again. WHY?

Please let us see what people are posting when they send out their connection request and make it easy for us not only to see it, but to reply to it before we accept it. Today, I see there’s another change and we’re one step closer to having that function returned. As you can see below, there’s now a little arrow in the upper right hand corner of the box and it’s my understanding that this arrow only appears if someone has indeed sent you a generic request. If they’ve taken the time to personalize their request, you’ll still see the little bubble and can view their message.

LinkedIn Generic Invite

When you’re wondering whether or not to accept a request from someone you don’t know, go visit their profile first. Look into who they are, who do they know that you know. Would they be a good prospect, affiliate, referral resource, etc.? If so, reach out with the “reply” option (i.e., the arrow in the image above) before you accept or ignore and engage with them. Then, see if they respond and once a conversation begins you can decide if accepting their request is what you’d like to do.

I continue to encourage engagement because social networking is about building and nurturing those relationships and a first great place to start is as soon as you send out an invitation to connect.

What do you think? Have you received generic invites and wondered 1) why is this person reaching out? or 2) how can I respond and learn more before I accept or ignore? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks a million.

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.


  1. LinkedIn specifically states “Important: Only invite people you know well and who know you.” Based on that thought, no one SHOULD need to personalize anything or reply. Why wouldn’t you want to connect with someone you know? Why would you need to reply and ask more before connecting?

    I think it also goes to hard it is to actually send a personalized request. When I speak on LinkedIn I ALWAYS recommend the only way to connect is to go to someone’s profile on a desktop and connect from there. Using LinkedIn’s recommendations and hitting connect automatically sends the generic request. On mobile it can take a few steps to find the personalized option.

    Personally, when I get a request from someone I do not know or not sure why I should connect, I do send the reply first as you do. Their answer, or lack of one, tells me whether I should connect.

    Excellent stuff Debra.
    Robert Nissenbaum recently posted…Why You Need To Spend More Time On Social NetworkingMy Profile

    • Like you, I’ve always told folks to go to someone’s profile first and connect from there. Used to be you couldn’t personalize from your smartphone, but I was thrilled when LinkedIn made that an option (published a post on LinkedIn about that).

      I think there are benefits to connecting with folks you may not know – they may be a good prospect, referral resource or affiliate. However, always a good idea to first visit their profile, see who (if anyone) you have in common, and “reply, but don’t accept” to learn more about why they reached out in the first place. I agree that their answer, or lack of one, is an indcator of whether or not you’ll begin building and nurturing a relationship.

      Not sure why LinkedIn hasn’t made the process easier for folks to personalize from the get go!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Robert.
      ~ Robert
      Debra Jason recently posted…Five Steps to Creating a Mesmerizing Marketing MessageMy Profile

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