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The Forgotten Secret to Inviting Candidates to Connect With You on LinkedIn


Today, we’re going to let you in on a little secret. It’s about inviting candidates to connect with you on LinkedIn (in case the title didn’t give it away!) Here on the blog, we talk a lot about how important it is to write a personalised, well-thought out inMail to increase your response rates. We talk about how to create content that you can then publish on LinkedIn as a way of building your personal brand. But let’s take a step back for a second, and think about what happens when your beautifully-crafted LinkedIn search yields amazing results of dozens of candidates that you’d like to reach out to. What’s the first thing that you do? Invite them to connect, of course!

So, you’ve found someone that you like on LinkedIn. You click the ‘Connect’ button, and then this pops up…

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Now, the million dollar question is what do you do next? You don’t actually know this person, you haven’t gone to college together and you’re not friends. Why, oh why can’t there just be an ‘I don’t know Joe personally but I’m a recruiter and I think that he could be a good fit for a job I have’ option?! Maybe now that Microsoft is acquiring LinkedIn, we can hope for this in the future but for now, here’s our advice – select ‘We’ve done business together’. In actual fact, you could choose any option from the list, because when the candidate gets a notification that you would like to connect with them, they’ll never actually see what you’ve chosen. They’ll just get the standard invitation notification on their dashboard, like so (see screenshot below…)

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Now, to add a personal note with the invitation, or not to? That is the question. Our two cents? Don’t bother. Don’t get us wrong, we’re all for spending time composing personalised messages that will show that you’ve carefully reviewed their profile and aren’t spamming them with the same old dribble that you’ve sent to 100 other random people. But there’s a time and a place for that, and this isn’t it!

At this stage of the game, everyone is used to getting connection requests on LinkedIn. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave the default note as ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn’. One exception to this is if you note that the person you’d like to connect with has very few connections. It could mean that they are new to LinkedIn, or that they aren’t active users, but it could also possibly mean that they only connect with people that they know personally. For people like this, it’s worth writing a short note to send alongside the invitation. Just DON’T mention that you have a job opportunity that they may be interested in on the note…remember, recruiting is all about courtship, so begin by simply introducing yourself.

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In a nutshell, inviting candidates to connect with you on LinkedIn doesn’t have to be a hugely strategic exercise – so don’t feel like you’re being lazy by not personalising every invite you send, or fret over what option to choose in terms of how you know them.

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Want to know the real secret? Well, there are three, actually!

Secret #1: Remember when we spoke about sending an invitation being the first thing you do when you want to connect with a candidate on LinkedIn? Well, the first thing that a candidate does when they receive your invitation is to look at your profile. So before you even think about clicking ‘Connect’, take a close look at your own profile. If your headline doesn’t clearly state what you do and where you work, don’t be surprised if your number of connections doesn’t go through the roof.

Secret #2: When a candidate views your profile and accepts your request, resist the urge to pounce on them with an inMail straight away. Instead, leave it for a day or two and when you do reach out, keep the opening conversation light – perhaps mentioning a common interest you share or a mutual connection you have in common. Steer clear of mentioning the job opportunity in the very first inMail.

Secret #3:  Let common sense be your guide. None of these are hard and fast rules – if you feel that you should include a short, personalised note with your invitation request, go for it! If the candidate sends you an inMail to say hello or asks about potential job opportunities once you’ve connected, don’t be afraid to write back straight away! Use your judgement rather than following a strict set of rules and don’t forget to keep an eye on how many of your connection requests actually accept your invitation. You absolutely need to track this, because at the end of the day it’s all well and good getting 10 new connections in a week, but is it really that amazing a result if you sent out 100 invitations?

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(RELATED: 7 Things You Absolutely Need To Do Before You Start a LinkedIn Search)

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