Personal Development

How to Introduce Yourself on LinkedIn

Man scrolling through LinkedIn on tablet

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for your professional development. 

Not only does it provide a platform for networking, but it can be used as a job board, a way to connect with complete strangers that you want to get to know, and provides you a way to keep in touch with your vast professional network that you develop throughout your professional career. The power of LinkedIn is underestimated again and again by people I talk to who are early in their career. You underestimate it too.

When used effectively, it can be your #1 tool in your career growth arsenal.

LinkedIn is powered by first and second-degree connections

These are the people that are direct connections to you and are considered to be “within your network.” 

Your first-degree connections are the people that you are directly connected to

You should include everyone that you have had a working relationship with in your career so far. This includes people from previous companies and jobs, your school or post-secondary colleagues, or anyone you have a conversation that is more in-depth than “Hi, how are you?”

By staying in touch and watching their careers and passions progress, you can find ways to provide them with useful information or connections, and they can do the same for you. LinkedIn is about building long-term and mutual professional relationships. 

Second-degree connections are those that are connected to someone that you know

And this is where we can really see the power of LinkedIn. Second-degree connections are like Grand-children to Grand-Parents. They are LinkedIn’s version of “extended family.” Your second-degree connections will be able to see your profile (if you make sure your settings are optimized). This makes them an easier group to connect with if you haven’t met them before. The easiest way to tap into these potential relationships is if you know someone in common (you have a first degree connection in common). You can leverage that mutual connection to build rapport with them. If you are not sure what to say, we will get to that soon! 

The other connections that are in your network are your third-degree connections

These are people who are connected to your second-degree connections. Anyone who isn’t loosely connected to you (by your extended LinkedIn family) are considered “out of your network.” While you can still connect with those people out of your network, it can be much more challenging because they don’t know you, they don’t know anyone who knows you. You haven’t built up any social reliability or a good reputation yet.

When you’re looking to connect with your new connections leverage your first and second-degree connections as a tool

When it comes to career progression networking is the name of the game. 

I had a recent conversation with the hiring manager, and he said the first place he visits when he is looking to hire it’s not his HR advisor or recruitment team (or even external recruiters)… it’s his LinkedIn profile. And he goes on there to look at his network connections that he’s directly connected to. He reaches out to anyone that he has worked with or knows of that he thinks might be a good fit for the role. Ironically, he is not active on LinkedIn outside of reconnecting with his connections. 

Once he finds out if his connections are open to the position, or if they can refer someone from their network, he knows if he can fill the role himself or if he will open it up to applicants. This is why 70–80% of positions are never posted online. And this process can take him up to 15 minutes per open role… it’s the most efficient way to ensure he gets high quality candidates.

He’s not the only one who does this! A vast majority of hiring managers in North America will leverage their LinkedIn network before they post a job. That way they know who they are, they know who they have in their candidate pool, and they are able to access the right people immediately. They solve the problem of hiring (because trust me, hiring can be a big problem) quickly and effectively.

By now, I’m sure you can see the benefits of connecting with people through LinkedIn and engaging with them consistently

This can be as simple as a “liking” a really interesting post that you’ve seen one of your first-degree LinkedIn contacts post, tagging someone in the comments that you think should see it, or sending a quick direct message to catch up. One of my favourite ways to maintain a genuine connection with my contacts is by thanking them for something they posted. A genuine thank-you note builds a large amount of rapport quickly and encourages them to continue to post similar things on the platform. 

You can even use a “thank-you” as part of a LinkedIn connection request. 

Here’s an example:

“Hey James, Thank you for posting the article about burn-out in technology. It was very interesting! I would love to connect with you to see more of your helpful content. Thanks again, Hannah” 


Just like that, you have started to build a network with loose professional connections within your first-degree network.

Word of warning: don’t be a spammer

Always (ALWAYS) be genuine in your LinkedIn connection requests. If you didn’t find an article useful, don’t tell them that you did. If you have no clue who they are or why you would mutually benefit from connecting, don’t try to connect with them. LinkedIn spamming is a real problem, and it’s important that we don’t contribute further to it!

LinkedIn can be a learning platform too

Outside of your job search, the other main benefit for building your network on LinkedIn is that you have access to new content, materials, ideas, and business news related to your field. It keeps you up-to-date and in the know which you can leverage when you are meeting with people for informational and formal interviews. It helps to have relevant market information and a good understanding of trends in your field so as a powerful education tool, not just a networking tool.

Now for the juicy question — how do you introduce yourself on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn connection requests are the best way to introduce yourself to any new contact. The first message you send is critical to leaving a good first impression. The biggest flaw that I see with LinkedIn introductions is that people will send the request without personalizing it in any way. A lot of the time it’s because they’re using LinkedIn on their phone. 

Many people don’t know that the LinkedIn App does not give you the option to personalize your message. If you are planning to send a connection request log in on your computer or laptop. That way you can actually send a customized, and personal note to the new connection you’re hoping to make.

Here are some examples of connection request that I sent to connect with new people:

“Hello Jimmy, I noticed that you graduated from the same University class and course as me! Were you in Psych 305 with Dr. Peterson? Would love to connect as we have similar interests. Hannah”

“Hi Sara, I really enjoyed reading your article about workplace culture. It would be great to hear more about your research. Looking forward to connecting! Hannah”

“Hey Gray, I am working on a software development project and was wondering if you might be interested in getting involved? It looks like you have done similar projects recently and I’d love to have you contribute to the project as a partner. Let me know!”

“Hello Alex, hope you are well! I came across your profile and was wondering if we could chat about your experience working with Company XYZ. I am really interested in working there, but was wondering if we could chat about the company culture? Let me know when you are free”

The themes of my LinkedIn message is that I focus on them and not on me. 

I’m not going to say “hey help me get a job.” 

I’m going to say, “hey I think you’re really interesting.” 

If you aren’t sure why, think about which message you would rather receive.

When you send a tailored and specific message to your potential connection, you will get much better results. If I get a nondescript LinkedIn invitation, I generally don’t accept it. The ones that I accept are ones that have personalized messages or that are very closely related to my field of work. The only other exception is if I know the person very well.

If you are sending messages without a personalized message you’re missing out on a lot of connections. 

It is a big waste of your time. 

You can also ask your network for LinkedIn introductions

By sending a message to a first-degree connection and asking for an introduction, you can build you network in a very personal way. You can send a message to a connection who has someone in their network that you might be interested in getting to know, and you can ask them for a quick introduction. With these messages, the trick is to keep it simple and personal! 

Say something like: 

“Hi Peter, how are you? Did you get the chance to teach your kids to ski this winter? I noticed that you are connected to Jane Doe. I’d love to chat with her about her role at Company XYZ. Would you be able to introduce me?”

Keep in mind that they might not know the person as well as you hope and might not be comfortable making an introduction. And that is okay! 

To successfully garner introductions, make sure you explain why you want to get to know the person. By providing the “why” behind your connection request, you’re able to establish a valid reason to connect with that person. If your first degree connection sees the value of introducing you, they are much more likely to do so. 

Keep your interactions light!

When you’re asking for connection requests or connection introductions, don’t put the pressure on people (especially if it is a cold outreach)! Understand that they might not have a close relationship to that individual. Or they might know that it is not the right time to introduce you to someone. 

Keep in mind that just because someone isn’t ready to introduce you, doesn’t mean you can’t make the connection. You have the opportunity to send a direct request to the person. And since they can see that you know someone in common, there is a higher likelihood that they will accept. 

By getting an introduction you’ve developed a sense of rapport, legitimacy, and reliability before you even know that person. If someone can vouch for you, you have increased social credibility. 

Good news, you can introduce people too!

If someone asks you to introduce them, think about how you would like to be introduced. When you’re making an introduction just make sure that it is focused on the person receiving the introduction. Make sure the conversation is mutually beneficial and is communicated clearly. Give people the chance to say “no” and to be in control of their time. 

Deciding who to connect with is half the battle on LinkedIn

To figure out the right person to talk to, research is your best friend.

Spend time researching which fields you want to work in, which industries are of interest to you, and look up companies that work in those fields. Once you’ve done that, you can head to LinkedIn and search the company name to find employees that currently work there. Use your company search results to find people who work in the company within your field or industry. Then use the previous tips to send an intentional and specialized connection request. 

The key to doing LinkedIn networking well is to understand the reason why you’re doing it before you get to the point where you hit send on a connection request. By making sure that you’ve done to the forethought, the research, and the planning ahead of time, you are being considerate of other people’s time and effort. They probably have a busy schedule!

Time is the only non-renewable resource that people have. It pays to treat the time of yourself and others with respect.

LinkedIn networks are built on mutually beneficial relationships. If you haven’t done the research and before connecting with someone, they can see through it. “Connecting” for the sake of “connecting” is not useful to anyone and does not help you with long term professional growth. It doesn’t add value to them and it also doesn’t add value to you.

The final goal of new LinkedIn connections is long term professional relationships

This often starts by doing an informational interview to learn from them… it is not to get a job. Resist the urge to immediately use your new connections to ask for something from them, and see what you can offer to them instead. Get to know the person, and how they got to where they are. From there you are able to establish your next steps, and they might (just might) be able to help you in the future. 

But remember, they are more likely to help you if you show that you’re truly curious, truly interested, and a not just out there to use their connection for a job. While your relationship may begin on LinkedIn, real relationships will need to transition out from the platform into the real world.

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