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How NOT to Make a Connection Request on Linkedin


Cast your mind back to the last connection request that you RECEIVED.

  • Was it from somebody that you wanted to connect with?
  • Was there obvious synergy between you and a benefit to connecting with them?
  • Was the request made in such a way that made you excited to want to connect with them?

Now cast your mind back to the last request that YOU MADE of someone else and ask yourself the same questions. Not so easy is it? Did you cringe a little when you considered what you said or more importantly didn’t? (I’ll get to that).

Yes, I am afraid this is one of those posts talking about the importance of making the right approach with a connection request on Linkedin.

  • Been done before – Yes!
  • Read 1000 other posts just like it -Probably!

But here’s the thing. People still don’t seem to know how to get this right, so I figure it’s still worthwhile helping people understand that balance between romance and being a creep. Between adding value or just being seen as someone out to take what they can get.

Whilst we can all appreciate that networking is about reaching out to people that you don’t quite know yet, it’s also really important to remember that people need to feel that they know who you are and what you are all about in order to be confident connecting with you. That’s a tough gig, but it’s a life skill just like any other and with some practice, you can get it right every time.

people need to feel that they know who you are and what you are all about in order to be confident connecting with you

In my industry, we use the words ‘Social Selling’ to describe the various ways that we can show up on our customer’s radar. We need to make sure that when we do connect with them we put our best foot forward and at least attempt to demonstrate the value that someone accepting your connection might gain from doing so.

Notice I said various ways. Well, Linkedin is but one of these ways and there is a good way and a bad way to use it when seeking quality connections and building your network.

LinkedIn isn’t just a place to connect with perfect strangers. With a little effort, it’s possible to start the relationship off on the right foot in a way that’s beneficial to both of you.

I recently had a request from an individual who wanted to accelerate our relationship without having yet earned the right to do so. It was typical…

“hello I want to sell you something, so let’s connect” type pitch.

We’ve all had them, the question is what do you do with them?

Do you…

A) Reject them without a second thought?

B) Accept and see what happens?

C) Take the time to explain what might have worked for you if they’d approached you in a different way?

Although it was clear from the outset that this person had lost me by trying to sell their services within our first communication I decided that being in my business, Option (C) would be better for us both and would give me the opportunity to tell them how they might have had a more positive outcome with a less aggressive approach.

These insights would have not only resulted in a successful connection but also created a stronger referral opportunity for them as well.

Common Connections

In my case, they might have used the fact that we clearly had at least 4 connections in common. Mentioning any of them and maybe referring to a conversation they’d shared might have lead to a different response right away. They might have instantly gained some credibility at least on face value.

Commenting on Posts or Articles

Alternatively, they could have tried sharing a thought on one of the numerous articles or posts that I have shared and tried to strike up a common interest before enquiring about what I or anyone I know might need in respect to their services. Yes! I know that takes time and seems counter productive but in the longer term, there is no doubt that it’s the better approach.

A strong connection leads to a stronger referral

Look, not everybody gets this right, however, I still took the time to thank them for their interest and you should too. This costs nothing and I have found it can often still lead to a fruitful conversation in the future.

This is a controversial one and I am sure not everyone will agree on this, but unless you operate internationally it’s probably a good idea to prioritise your connection requests to people within your own country first. The main reason I say this is because it’s great to actually meet your connections in person. You have a far better chance of doing that when you can easily physically meet face-to-face. Having said that, I get that nowadays we have even more opportunities to network by utilising technology such as Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom (to name a few).

Did you know that LinkedIn has a maximum limit of 30,000 1st degree connections that you can have? 

I know, that’s a big number right? Although you might be thinking “there’s no way I’ll ever reach that number and perhaps that’s true, can you imagine if you were connected to 30,000 people who could positively influence you and your business? 30,000 people whom you have taken the time to personally get to know! Now that’s a network worth having right?

In the spirit of a recap. Here are some things to consider before making a connection request:

  1. Always be polite
  2. Always send a personal message and not the generic LinkedIn message with that boring “Hi, I’d like to join your LinkedIn network.”
  3. Try to make sure there is a reason to connect that isn’t just self-serving.
  4. Highlight where there is common synergy i.e. if you have connections in common or read something that you could highlight in the conversation.
  5. Think about how you can serve your connection and not just how your connection can serve you.
  6. Be brief and genuine in your reason to connect.
  7. Don’t try selling your services in that first communication.
  8. Don’t try and connect with anyone for the sake of a connection alone.

Selling is not just telling. It’s is often far more important to ask the right questions and try and understand your customer’s needs before trying to sell to them. Another way to think of it might be that it’s just a first date. You’re not asking to meet the parents. It’s worth taking the extra time to get to know someone. You’re not going to get that with the spray and pray approach to connection requests.

Maybe it’s time to get streamlining those connections and losing any that no longer make sense.

So with that in mind forget the past and your half-hearted connection requests and think about the ones that you are going to make going forward.

If you’ve enjoyed this post and think that I’ve got something to offer you or your network or you’ve got something to offer me and mine, please do feel free to connect with me. At least you now know how.

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