Answering LinkedIn’s “How Do You Know” Invitation Question

LinkedIn invitation, How Do You Know

LinkedIn invitation, How Do You Know

LinkedIn-Q&A: LinkedIn Invitation QuestionsI often get questions from people regarding LinkedIn. When I feel the question is shared by others, I post it here on my blog for all to read.


Hi Donna,

I am trying to find out if the person you are trying to connect to sees the option you choose when you answer the “How do you know so-and-so?” prompt. Does the person see what you selected when they are sent the invitation? –Jennifer


Hi Jennifer,

What a fantastic question!

Let me give a little background first before I tell you the answer…

When you send an invitation to connect to a person on LinkedIn, you must select how you know that person:

LinkedIn Invitation

LinkedIn only wants you to connect with people you know and trust. That’s the reason why the only options that actually work are Colleague, Classmate, We’ve done business together, or Friend.

If you try to select I don’t know so and so, you get the following pop-up error:

Can't Connect on LinkedIn

If you select Other, LinkedIn asks you to enter the person’s email address. (If you must always enter a person’s email address regardless of your selection, your account is restricted)

The workable options LinkedIn provides aren’t always the best options. As an example, let’s say you met someone at a networking event and you want to connect on LinkedIn.

You didn’t go to school with that person nor are you colleagues. You haven’t done business together and you only met once so stating they are a friend isn’t quite right.

What do you select?

Choose the option that feels best to you. I normally choose: We’ve done business together. The reason I choose this option is it feels more authentic than “Friend.” Plus, doing business is pretty general and can mean a whole slew of things. It doesn’t necessarily mean I was their client or vice versa.

Here’s the good news: It doesn’t really matter what you select (as long as it is Colleague, Classmate, We’ve done business together, or Friend) because the other person does not see your answer.

How Do You Know?

Here’s the proof. I turned on email notifications for LinkedIn invitations to connect and how the person knows me is not stated anywhere:

LinkedIn's Invitation to Connect Notification emailDid Mr. Melbourne, Australia select Friend or Colleague? I have no idea!

It doesn’t show on LinkedIn’s Pending Invitations page, either:

LinkedIn Pending invitation

If LinkedIn doesn’t use this information, why do they collect it?

It reinforces LinkedIn’s service agreement to only connect with those people we know and trust. By having to make a choice, it keeps us focussed on HOW we know that person and it stops us from connecting too far and wide.

Ultimately, choose what makes sense and feels authentic to you. I highly recommend adding a personal note! And don’t let these little things stop you from connecting. Your network is power… wield it well!

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  1. Bob Harrison says:

    You can use ‘Other’ as one of your choices – it just asks you for your potential contact’s email address. I use this when someone gives me their business card and they are someone worth connecting to. That way, I don’t have to fit them into one of the other categories!

  2. Great tip! I always use the “Friend” because I knew that the other person couldn’t see either way. I may likely start using “We’ve done business together” which does feel more genuine.

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