What People See When You Send a LinkedIn Request and Why It Matters

LinkedIn has made plenty of recent changes, including a profile design overhaul. Yet, one of the most stressful parts of LinkedIn (or any social platform) remains consistent: will this person accept my request to connect.

To better position yourself so that people accept your LinkedIn invitations; whether it’s people you’ve met in person, or people you’re reaching out to cold, it’s important to understand what people see when they get your request.

The following list includes what people see under “My Network” and their requests, and how you can best take advantage of what people learn about you in that moment when they check that little red notification and decide whether or not you should be a part of their LinkedIn network:

Your Photo

Your photo takes up the most real estate. Depending on your privacy settings, people may or may not be able to see your photo before you are connected with them.

What You Can Do

The obvious choice for your profile photo is a clear shot of just your face that is easily recognizable. You can also be creative. For instance, if you’re a photographer, your profile photo can be of you capturing a moment, or doing whatever it is you do. You can also choose to do some sort of caricature or logo if you’d prefer not to have a regular photo.

Your Headline

Most people think this section is the person’s job title or school, but that’s only because that’s what most people have — that basic information — as their headline. The headline has the second biggest amount of real estate when it comes to what people see when you add them, and you should tell people as much as possible in that space.

What You Can Do

Tell us more than just your job or that you’re a student…you can include that and much more. What are your aspirations? What are your future goals? Specific niches you’re interested in within your studies or interests? How about something fun about yourself or something you’re passionate about? You have 120 characters to share what you do, your interests, and expertise. Use it wisely.

(Examples here)


Mutual Connections

The person will see if you have any connections in common, will name one or two and then say and X others. If you know some of the same people, that’s a sign that you’re a person they should know as well.

What You Can Do

Take some time each week, a couple of times a month, or in the moment, to connect with people you’ve recently met. You can also think back to past jobs, college, or people you’ve collaborated with and take time to connect with them as well. Figure out a system and habit that works for you to consistently build your network on LinkedIn. You might also want to use LinkedIn to connect with people you haven’t met IRL, but admire. Which brings me to the next point: sending a custom note.

What the mutual connections section looks like

A Custom Message (or lack thereof)

If you personalize your invite with a note, that is the final piece that will display on the screen when a person decides whether or not to accept your request. This is not required, so most people don’t include one. That’s a mistake.

What You Can Do

If you take the time to send a custom note when you connect with people, that will show up on their network page. If it’s a longer message, the person will have to click “read more.” In a sea of mostly generic invites, a custom note literally takes up more space on the screen and gives you the chance to make it easy to remind the person how you know them or why you’re connecting if you haven’t already met.

Hot tip, don’t put line breaks in the custom note so the person sees more of it without hitting read more!


Make these profile updates that will better tell your story and start sending your LinkedIn requests more confidently to your future connections!

What are your tips for making successful connections on LinkedIn?

About the Author

Emily is Founder and CEO of FindSpark. Passionate about the power of social media and networking; Emily has spoken at numerous colleges, conferences, and events including The International Youth Leaders Assembly at The United Nations, SXSW Interactive, Internet Week, Mediabistro's Social Media Bootcamp, Time Inc, Columbia University, and New York University, among others. Emily is also an adjunct professor, teaching social media and career courses at multiple colleges. Learn more about having Emily speak at your next event and follow her on twitter @EmilyMiethner.

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