"I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." Recruiters get a lot of requests to connect on LinkedIn, and many of them say the exact same thing.
Some recruiters might want to connect with as many people as possible, but those who specialize and understand a specific industry (like... oh, I don't know, open source or healthcare IT) want to curate their connections so the people in their network are relevant to the roles they fill. That means that great recruiters don't accept all connection requests that come their way. If you want to connect with one, you need to stand out--and an easy way to do that is to write an inspiring message to go along with it. Think of LinkedIn connection requests as the new cover letters--their purpose is to convince someone you've never met to care you're reaching out.
Lindsey Thorne, the Manager of Greythorn's Open Source & Big Data Practice, gets a lot of LinkedIn requests, but said she ignores most of them.
"I really don't accept most of the connection requests I receive. I get so many, and to look through all their profiles to see if they're in tech would take more time than I have--so I just don't," she admitted. "The exception is when there's an actual message attached--if they took the time to write me a note, I'll look at their profile, add them to my network, and I might even send a message back to see if they're in the market right now."
So how do you write a LinkedIn connection request that makes a recruiter take notice?
1. Be Human
This seems like it should be obvious as you already are one, but writing a note like a human would is essential. If you try to write sales copy about yourself to impress a recruiter, all you're going to do is get a few eye rolls--not a new connection.
2. Be Relevant
Mention what you do, what type of job you're looking for (if you're looking) or if you've met before. Have you heard them speak? Follow them on Twitter? Mention it in your message! Show the recruiter there's actually a reason you want to connect specifically to them.
3. Be Concise
Once you've decided to go beyond the default message request, consider not going to the other extreme and drafting a novel. Be brief and clear in your message--just like anyone else, recruiters appreciate you getting to the point.
4. Be Ready
If you're going to start reaching out to recruiters, remember that your initial message is just a foot in the door. You need to have your LinkedIn profile polished and ready for recruiters to take a look because, like Lindsey, they might not add you to their network until they've checked out your online resume (if you're not sure where to start updating your profile, check out our guide).
If you follow these guidelines, you should see more of your connection requests getting accepted by recruiters. In fact, we'd recommend you adopt these practices for hiring managers, industry leaders, future colleagues, or anyone else you reach out to on LinkedIn. In a world of faceless professional networking, a personal note will always be welcomed.