You’re perusing LinkedIn, and you find someone you’d love to connect with. Luckily, LinkedIn makes that simple—it’s just the click of a button, right?

Well, technically yes. But, if you want to send a professional invitation that stands a chance of actually getting accepted, it’s going to take a little more thought and consideration than simply hitting that blue “Connect” button.

Here are four must-know tips to take your requests (and your network as a whole) to the next level.

1. Look in the Right Place

This first tip is a little more technical, but it’s important. When requesting a connection, do so right from that person’s profile—and not from the “People You May Know” or “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” sections.

Why? Well, connecting directly from a profile will give you the opportunity to personalize your message (more on that later!), while the other two sections will just automatically send a canned response.

2. Polish Your Profile

The first time someone looks at your LinkedIn profile (which he or she will undoubtedly do after receiving your invitation), you’re setting your digital first impression. And, you want it to be a good one.

So, make sure you take some time to dust the cobwebs off your page before sending out a bunch of requests.

Ensure that you have a professional and recent photo of yourself. Confirm that your experience section is up to date. Polish up your summary so that it reflects who you are as a professional.

Having a profile that looks complete and impressive—and demonstrates that you’re active on the platform—will let that prospective connection know that he or she is connecting with someone who will be a beneficial and engaged contact.

3. Personalize Your Message

Out of all of the tips listed here, this one is the most crucial. Picture this on a school bus-sized sign, with fireworks going off behind it: You absolutely should personalize every single LinkedIn invitation you send.

Don’t panic yet—this doesn’t need to be anything overly complex. Your introductory message should be short, sweet, and include the following key elements:

  • Who you are: Your name and what you currently do will suffice
  • How you know this person: Did you find his work published somewhere? Or, did you recently meet at an event?
  • Why you want to connect: Basically, what made you want to reach out? Whether you want to continue to follow his work or are eager to find more about his field, make your purpose explicitly clear

Remember, that generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” line isn’t enough. Personalization will yield much better results.

4. Use a Strong Closing

The final line of your message is the last thing someone will see before deciding whether to accept or ignore your request. So, make sure you end on a high note.

My favorite way to wrap things up? By letting him or her know that I’m looking forward to staying connected. It’s warm, simple, and lets that person know that I’m aiming to establish a true networking relationship—and not just increase my connection count.

Always keep in mind that you have limited characters to get your point across—only 300 to be exact (if you don’t have that person’s email address). So, you’ll want to be friendly, while also keeping things concise.

Now, you have everything you need to craft effective LinkedIn requests. Implement these four key tips, and you’re sure to start adding beneficial, high-quality connections to your network.

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