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As a strategic networker, you know you should never ever try to connect with people using canned LinkedIn invitations. Unfortunately, there are lazy networkers out there who just don’t realize the importance of customizing LinkedIn requests. So, you find yourself getting requests from strangers that simply say, "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." (Psst! Can't get hired? Watch this free tutorial.) This is frustrating for those of us on the receiving end of the requests because we don’t know why these people are interested in connecting with us. So, what’s the polite way to say, "I don't know you; why do you want to connect with me?" When you’re in this situation, you want to be tactful and strategic. Here are a couple of templates you can use to get a conversation started with a complete stranger on LinkedIn:


Write a brief message thanking them for connecting. Then, mention something you have in common based on what you can see from his or her profile and ask a question about it.

Thanks for connecting! It’s great to meet you. I’d love to learn a little bit more about your professional goals and interests so I can best serve you as a networking connection. I noticed that you and I work in the digital marketing marketing field. How did you get involved in digital marketing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Or, if you can’t really find anything you have in common, mention something you found interesting on his or her profile:

Thanks for connecting! It’s great to meet you. I’d love to learn a little bit more about your professional goals and interests so I can best serve you as a networking connection. I noticed that you work in environmental engineering. Can you tell me a little bit more about your work?

Or, if you think there’s potential, but you don’t know much about them, you can always send them something a little more general:

Thanks for connecting! It’s great to meet you. I’d love to learn a little bit more about your professional goals and interests so I can best serve you as a networking connection. Can you tell me a little bit more about yourself and your work?

BONUS TIP

Networking on LinkedIn doesn’t have to be hard. With the right strategy, you can build a strong network that will work for you. Don’t accept every single person who requests to connect with you on LinkedIn. If you don’t think this person will be a value-add to your network in some way, shape, or form, hit the “Ignore” button.

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