You may be trying to grow your LinkedIn network for a number of reasons. It could be to expand your professional network or use LinkedIn to find and connect with new potential clients.
How do you write a LinkedIn connection request when sending an invite to someone you don’t know?
Sending a generic connection request may result in an acceptance from time to time.
But sending an impersonal connection request will most often not work when trying to connect with decision-makers, influencers and other people who could become great clients for you.
And it’s risky if a handful of the people who reject your connection request also click “I don’t know this person” option. You could end up getting your LinkedIn account restricted. When that happens, you will no longer be able to send a LinkedIn connection request to someone whose email you do not know.
Like with any first impression, you have only one chance to get it right. That’s why it’s incredibly important for your LinkedIn connection request to interest your potential connection right away. To accomplish that, you need to tell them – from their point of view – why you want to connect with them.
Sitting nearly at LinkedIn’s cap of 30,000 first-degree connections, I happen to know quite a bit about the kind of messages that will convince people to accept your connection request as well as reject it.
In fact, just recently my LinkedIn inbox was flooded with 2,319 messages in one week.
Normally, my advice to others is to check the profile of the person sending the connection request to see whether you want to connect with this person.
But in my particular situation, it would have been impossible to go through 2,319 profiles before accepting or rejecting each request. That is a lot of requests, even for me.
How did I decide which ones to accept and which ones to decline?
Remember I said first impressions count?
When you make a great first impression with your connection request, people are more likely to respond favourably to you and accept your request.
But if you make a bad first impression, there’s no way to undo that. And that means fewer professional opportunities for you.
Just how many of those 2,319 requests made the cut?
There are two reasons for that.
Reason 1: I want a relevant, quality network.
Reason 2: The majority of connection requests and messages I received were not personalized or…
They completely failed the first impression test.
You might be thinking now, “But Melonie, of course, you’re going to be a harsh judge. You TEACH people how to connect and converse on LinkedIn.”
But it isn’t actually that difficult to get a connection accepted by me.
If the connection request is courteous, professional, friendly, complimentary and genuinely relevant, I will often accept it. When you are trying to connect with a complete stranger, you need to give them a reason to click the accept button.
Now, I want to give you a quick warning.
I am going to be BRUTALLY honest in this post to help you understand what to do if you want to get your connection requests accepted. Likewise, I’ll tell you what not to do to avoid having your account restricted.
It may offend some.
While I would prefer not to offend anyone, I would rather help YOU understand how to successfully connect with prospects, decision-makers and influencers so that you generate more clients and build your business.
That’s because when it comes down to it, if your connection messages aren’t relevant to these people, they won’t connect with you.
No connections means no opportunities, which means no growth for your business.
But if you can connect with confidence, competence, relevance and maybe a little bit of charm, you’ll go far on LinkedIn!
To help you accomplish this, I’ll dissect many of the connection requests I’ve received (protecting the identity of the senders) and, depending on the example, explain what they did right or wrong.
LinkedIn Connection Requests I Rejected
In the first example, there are two big LinkedIn no-noes.
The first error is sending someone another message, or more, when they haven’t responded to your initial message. If someone is interested, they will respond to you when they are ready.
The second is asking the recipient for a favor when they don’t even know you.
In my case, I give away a TON of free information right here on my blog, in webinars, videos and on my LinkedIn profile to anyone who wants it. For a total stranger to ask me to provide them with feedback on their profile is simply disrespectful.
In the second example, when this guy says “kick the tires” what he really means is: “Can you please do a strategic deep dive into our website and content and tell us how we can make more money from it without paying you a dime?”
Professionals being asked for free consulting is an all-too-common issue on LinkedIn, no matter how successful or well-known they are.
If you ever get asked to work for free, you have two options.
One is to ignore the request.
The second is to send the sender a quote for your services, asking them if they’re still interested in working together.
Now, let’s take a peek at the third example.
It’s self-absorbed because this person made it all about him.
He’s made a subtle request for me to review his profile.
Did I respond? Nope.
In this example, we see another common issue: the “Generation Me” epidemic.
Remember the old phrase “interested is interesting”?
This is as relevant today as it was decades ago, and it is key to winning people over and helping them to know, like and trust you.
You should always make your approach more about the other person than about you. When you do that, you are seen as engaged, considerate and likeable.
This is the key to having people accept your connection requests.
Firstly, there’s no personalized message. And secondly, I’m not a fan of L.I.O.N.s.
L.I.O.N. stands for LinkedIn Open Networker, meaning such people connect with anyone and everyone. They believe if they rack up thousands of connections, they will open the doors to more opportunities.
In reality, it means they have thousands of worthless connections and make themselves look spammy and untrustworthy.
I think this person is asking me to help him game the LinkedIn algorithm!
Not a good first impression.
And what would I gain from connecting with this person?
Remember, every stranger you send a connection request to has this thought in the back of their mind: “What’s in it for me?” WIIFM – remember that acronym.
It leaves me thinking, “My friend, if you want to do better in LinkedIn’s algorithm, I have a LinkedIn course that will show you the ropes…”
Now, I love a little mystery as much as the next person, but when I read this, all I could think was “WHY do you want to connect?”
If you want to connect with someone, you must give a reason, a relevant reason, to connect – from their perspective, not yours. Otherwise, you come across as opportunistic and desperate for connections.
This is simply a stale attempt at personalization that comes across as stilted and generalized. There’s a very good chance it’s a template message – something you must NEVER send.
This is the “sales pitch” connection request. The answer to it is always NO! And no, I really don’t need any help with LinkedIn, thank you!
LinkedIn Connection Requests I Accepted
I’ve shown you some examples of connection requests to which I immediately clicked the Ignore button.
Now, let me take you through some great examples of connection requests to which I said yes.
Flattery will get you everywhere!
But seriously, if you pay someone a sincere compliment, show gratitude or make mention of something relevant to them – in this case it was my book LinkedIn Unlocked – you will capture their attention and create goodwill right away.
There are a few things I really like about this request.
First, the sender made her request relevant to me by mentioning she saw me speak at a conference. She has a genuine reason to say hello to me.
Second, I’m impressed with how motivated this person is to act on something she has learned from me. As a teacher and guide, I’m invested in this person’s success and will pay attention to her message.
Third, she mentioned my book and how much she is enjoying it. That’s a genuine compliment from someone making progress, and I am inclined to respond to it. It’s human nature to further help those who thank us for helping them.
In this connection request, the person mentioned the fact that I delivered my Social Selling Accelerator™ training to his team.
If I am delivering a training to a large team, I may not know the names of everyone in it. By making sure I knew he was part of the company I just provided social selling training to, this person guaranteed I accepted his connection request.
This person has enjoyed my content and has taken the time and effort to reach out to me to say thanks while letting a little of his personality shine through.
In addition, by mentioning the name of someone who has been through my online training and often shares my posts, he found some commonality between the two of us.
He has effectively formed a connection with me on both a business and personal level, leaving me with the impression that this person is interesting and worth connecting with.
In this example, the sender made it clear she is familiar with my work, and she created commonality by mentioning she’s a fellow Canadian. Sometimes it really can be this simple!
This person started with a compliment, then told me he is recommending my book to others and mentioned he has worked with another LinkedIn expert I know well. It’s a clear yes!
I must admit, it was much more difficult for me to find examples of connection requests I accepted versus those I have declined.
When in doubt about whether you should or shouldn’t accept someone’s connection request, use this decision guide:
How to Get Your LinkedIn Connection Request Accepted
Offer a genuine compliment. Be specific about what you liked, why you liked it and how it helped.
Do your homework. Show that you have researched the person you want to connect with by mentioning something specific about them, their company or content.
Be relevant. Ask yourself: “Have I given this person a good reason to connect with me?”
Be friendly. It’ll be their first impression of you; be friendly and courteous.
Show commonality. Mention something you share in common.
Be original. Make sure every connection request you send is tailored to the person you are sending it to.
Give them a reason to connect. Don’t be vague and say “we should connect” without offering a relevant reason.
Do not make it all about you. Just like in real life, when new connections talk only about themselves, they turn people off.
Don’t brag. Similar to the point above, boasting about all the great things you do is irrelevant to the person reading your message. They want to know about how you can help THEM, so craft your message to subtly demonstrate that.
Never send a sales pitch. Do not send anything that could be perceived as a sales pitch, whether blatantly or sneakily.
Don’t ask for favors. The rudest thing you can do on LinkedIn is to ask someone to work for free, especially when you don’t know them yet and haven’t offered them anything of value first.
Now that you see there is a distinctly right and wrong way to approach sending LinkedIn connection requests, I hope you are committed to avoiding the faux pas so many people often make.
By using the examples and tips I have shared here, you will be able to grow your connections and kickstart your LinkedIn relationships.
It isn’t rocket science. Just stick to the principles outlined in this article, and watch your network grow!
If you found this article helpful, please share it on LinkedIn so we can get more people connecting the right way!
Now tell me, what’s the worst LinkedIn connection request you’ve received? Let me know in the comments.u
To learn more about how to use LinkedIn effectively, check out my new LinkedIn Leads video series. In it, you’ll find three videos that will teach you how to elevate your personal brand, attract more clients and build your authority – all with a few simple changes to your LinkedIn approach. Click here to get access.