Yesterday’s tutorial covered how to export your contacts from Outlook and upload them into LinkedIn.  But this is limiting – although it cuts down on the investment of time you need to make in order to connect with people, it doesn’t give you the flexibility of personalizing the invitations to make engaging more likely – and that’s the goal with social media: engagement!

So today, we’re going to go into more depth about adding contacts manually.  I’m the first to admit that manually adding contacts is a pain, and can be time consuming.  But if you take the time to send a personal note to those you add, they’ll be more willing to accept your invitation and subsequently engage with you.  You don’t have to take a whole afternoon to work on this – I know everyone is busy!  Instead, when you first come in to the office in the morning and are having your cup of coffee, log into LinkedIn and add five people.  It won’t take you very long at all, and soon you’ll have a nice list of connections built up.  Even if you do this once a week, it will make a difference.

There are a few different ways that you can start adding people. From your home page, mouse over "Contacts" in the top menu. Click "Add Connections." 

This will bring you to a new page that asks you who you already know – you’ll remember this page from the last post, when you could either log in to your webmail and add contacts or upload them from Outlook. But we’re not doing that today.  

At the top of that box, you’ll see four tabs – "Add Connections," "Colleagues," "Classmates," and "People You May Know."  Let’s first click on "Colleagues." 

Once you click on the Colleagues tab, you’ll be taken to a page that lets you see how many colleagues are on LinkedIn from each of the positions that you’ve held, segregated by present and past positions:


You can start with any of the positions you’d like to, and return to this page as necessary.  I’ll go through adding some colleagues from my current position as an example.  First, I click the button to "View all International Lawyers Network"

It takes me to a new page:

This gives you a list of everyone who has held a position with your company.  There are times when this list isn’t 100% accurate, so just focus on the people that you know.  To invite people from this list to connect with you, click the check box next to their name.  This will add them into the box that says "Send invitations to connect to." 

Below that box, you’ll see another checkbox that says "Add a personal note with your invitation?"  Click this so that you can add a personal note. This will open up a new box where you can type your note to the person or persons you’re inviting to connect with you.  

Once you have your note written, you can click "Send Invitations."  Note that this approach means that although you’re including a personal note, you’re sending the same note to each of the people you’re inviting.  So you may want to invite them individually so that you can include a separate note for each.

Anyone who regularly uses LinkedIn know that if they get an email or invitation from someone else on LinkedIn, and it says "Hi" or "Good morning" at the top, it’s an email that’s going out to multiple people – they don’t have the ability to personalize bulk emails.  So if they get an invitation that says "Dear Peter," they know that you took the time to invite them personally.  

What might be a good example of a personalized invitation? I’ll share the one I use to connect with ILN members on LinkedIn:

Dear {name},


I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn Contacts.  My name is Lindsay Griffiths and  I am the Director of Network Development with the International Lawyers Network, of which your firm is a member. 


It’s a very short introduction to who I am and how they know me. You can go into slightly more detail with yours, but note that LinkedIn usually has a limit as to how long your invitation emails can be, so short and sweet is the best option. Some tips:

  • Be direct.
  • Let them know who you are.
  • Let them know how you know each other. 

Adding contacts from your other professional positions will be done very similarly.  

To find past or present classmates, we’ll go back to the "Add Connections" page and choose "Classmates."

This will take you to a new page that asks you to select the school that you’d like to search for alums in.  You may want to start with your law school classmates, as they could be potential referral sources.  But don’t forget your undergraduate classmates!  


Click the link for the school you’d like to search.  You’ll be taken too a page with the classmates who graduated the same year that you did.

You’ll see at the top that you have a few options. you can click the radio button next to "View all years attended" with the range of years that you attended that school – this will list all the students who were at the school during those years.  

Or, you can view a graduation year.  The page defaults to your graduation year, but you can select from other years – for example, if you want to view all the graduates from 1977 because you were friendly with many of them, you can do that. 

The nice thing about the classmates invitations is that they’re all set up to be written personally.  When you see someone that you know that you’d like to connect with, click the "Invite" next to their name: 


For example, I was friends with Ed in college (and in fact, we were born on the very same day!), so I can click "Invite." I’m then taken to a new page where I can craft an invitation to be sent to Ed, inviting him to connect with me. 

You’ll see that below the text box there is a note that suggests you only send invitations to classmates you know well personally and who will welcome your message. This is good advice in general for any connections you want to make on LinkedIn or elsewhere (with the exception of Twitter and Google+, more on those in later posts).

Once I’ve written my personal note to Ed, I click "Send Invitation" and it invites him to connect with me. 

There’s one more tab on the Add Connections page, and that’s "People You May Know."  This tab doesn’t show any potential contacts until you start making more connections, because it will make suggestions to you based on the other people that you’re connected with.  

So for this, I’ll log into my existing profile to show you what this may look like once you’ve started to build up your connections.  Again, we’ll go to our "Add Connections" page, and this time, choose "People You May Know." 


You’ll be taken to another screen with a list of people you may know.  If your list of contacts is long enough, this may be quite the list, so you can always filter it with the options on the lefthand side.


So let’s talk about those filters for a minute – you can see that you can filter them by their current company (you can either choose "All companies" which is the default, or one of the companies listed), by their past companies, or by their schools.  Filtering can be an interesting thing here because while you may know someone because you’ve worked with them at a particularly company, filtering them by your school (if it pops up) may show you that you’re also connected to them as alumni.  That would be a great reason to connect and engage! You could say something like "When was the last time you were on the Hill?" (As we called Hamilton) or "What do you think of all the changes to the campus?" Give people a good reason to want to talk with you more – and it doesn’t just have to be business!

Now let’s connect to some people we may know.  I look through my list of potential connections and see that I know Kristina Teplova – she’s an associate at one of our Russian law firms, and she recently attended our conference in Lisbon, so I’ve met her in person. 

I’ll click "Connect" next to her name to connect with her.


This is going to give me a pop-up window that asks me to confirm that I want to connect with Kristina, and whether I want to add a personal message (of course!):

When you click "Add a personal message," a small box opens up underneath that allows you to type in your message.

Once I’ve added my message, I can click "Send Invitation" to invite Kristina to connect with me. 

"People You May Know" will also come up on your home page.

Once you’re established in LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to check this out regularly and see if there’s someone in that list you may want to connect to. Clicking on the "See More" link at the bottom will take you to the same page as we just left, but you can also connect with people right from this list.

If you don’t know the person and want them removed from your list, or just don’t want to connect with them, you can just click the x. 

Now, there are still MORE ways to connect with people on LinkedIn – overwhelmed yet? Like Kevin O’Keefe is fond of saying, it can often feel like you’re drinking from a firehose.  But if you take one feature of LinkedIn at a time and play around with it, you’ll be an expert in no time!

In today’s post, I’m going to cover one more way you can connect with people, and we’ll look at adding connections through company pages and groups in later posts. 

LinkedIn allows you to search directly for people you may know.  From your home page, this search defaults to "People" so you’re only searching the profiles of people who are LinkedIn.  You can also search companies, groups, and more, but we’ll get into that another day.  For now, let’s just focus on people. 


I’m going to search for my sister, Erin.  As you start to type in someone’s name, you’ll notice that a list of possibilities will come up. If you see the person you’re looking for, you can click directly on their name. 

If not, you can finish typing their name and hit enter, or you can click the magnifying glass. Since my sister’s name didn’t come up, I typed it in and hit enter.

You’ll be taken to a page of search results. Since my sister and I share a connection (my existing profile self), she appears at the top of the list.

There are then two ways you can add someone.  Begin by mousing  over their name, and four options will appear on the righthand side:


You can: 

  • Send InMail: This is a feature of a pro account that allows you to send a LinkedIn email to someone that you are not connected with.
  • Get introduced: If you share a contact, you can request an introduction.  You fill out a form where you include a note to the person you’re hoping to connect to, as well as your existing connection. This is then sent to your connection who decides if they want to send it to the desired recipient (in the case of 2nd degree connections) or to a shared connection (in the case of 3rd degree connections).
  • Add to Network: You can add the person to your network – this will take you to an invitation page where you can add a personal note.
  • Find references: references tell you who in your network has worked with the person you’re hoping to connect with.

One of the ways I can connect is by clicking "Add to network." This will take me to a new page where I have to enter my sister’s email address and add a personal message. 

Once you add the email address and personal note, click "Send Invitation."

The other way you can add a connection from the search results is to first click on the person’s name to be taken to their profile page.  If you’re not sure that the person you want to connect to is the person appearing in the results, this is a good idea so that you can confirm it.


This is definitely my sister, so I click the "Add Erin to your network" button in the upper right hand side?

This takes me to the same invitation page that we saw above, where I can enter her email address and a personal message before clicking "Send Invitation." 

Now you’re ready to begin connecting! But before I let you go for the weekend, let’s talk about when someone wants to connect with YOU.  When this happens, you’ll get an email in your inbox:

The email will say "Name wants to connect with you." It will include a personal message if the person has sent one, or will just appear generically as above if they haven’t.  If you know the person without having to look at their profile, you can just click "Accept." 

If you’d like to know more about them, you can click "View Profile >>"


If you click "Accept" initially, you won’t need to do anything else. You browser will open up a new window, and the connection will automatically be accepted.  If you click "View Profile," you will go to the person’s profile page.  Once there, if you would like to accept the connection, you’ll either have to return to your email and click "Accept" or you can view your pending invitations:

To find your pending invitations, look at the menu at the top and select "Inbox."

This will take you to your inbox, where you can view any messages that come in.  However, to see your pending invitations, click "Invitations." 

On the invitations page, you can choose to "Accept" or "Ignore" a connection request, depending on your preferences. 

Next week, we’ll talk more about some ways you can engage your connections, and groups, company pages, and more!

Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the goals of a global professional services network. She manages all major aspects of the Network, including recruitment, member retention, and providing exceptional client service to an international membership base.

In her role as Executive Director, Griffiths manages a mix of international programs, engages a diverse global community, and develops an international membership base. She leads the development and successful implementation of major organizational initiatives, manages interpersonal relationships, and possesses executive presence with audiences of internal and external stakeholders. Griffiths excels at project management, organization, and planning, writes and speaks with influence and authority, and works independently while demonstrating flexibility in thinking, especially in challenging situations. She also adapts to diverse and dynamic environments with constant assessment and recalibration.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

In 2021, the ILN was honored as Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer European Awards, and in 2016, 2017, and 2022, they were shortlisted as Global Law Firm Network of the Year. Since 2011, the Network has been listed as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network, recently increasing this ranking to be included in the top two percent of law firm networks globally, as well as adding two regional rankings. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry and was included in Clio’s list of “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful, and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was chosen as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February 2009.