One major caveat though is that you absolutely, positively need to write a personalized note in the invitation to connect. This means you have to go to their profile page first and then scan the right side of the page for the yellow “Connect” box and check off which type of connection might apply (colleague, classmate, friend, etc.). Be ready to supply the email address you have, if necessary, and definitely edit the canned message in the personal note box on the screen.
Trust me, you’ll differentiate yourself from the masses if you personalize your message. Most people don’t, for some reason. By doing so, you’re more likely to create some good social capital, as well as get your invitation accepted. After all that’s what it is all about! I rarely accept an “Invitation to Connect” unless the person sending it has taken the 10 seconds to write a brief note or at least remind me of how we met.
Here’s an example of something I might write:
“Gwen, I really enjoyed hearing about your career goals for 2012 and, if I can be of any assistance to you in the New Year, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s stay connected via LinkedIn and I hope you have a happy holiday season.”