It’s safe to say that leading with a sales-based connection message won’t get you many accepted requests. Especially if your personalized message points out that the person has “areas to improve.”
It’s also a given that a personalized message should be included in connection requests to give them a reason for why they should accept a request. Random connections don’t necessarily lead to impactful relationships.
How should you connect with people on LinkedIn? We asked business professionals for their best LinkedIn connection tips to help you build your network.
Here are 10 LinkedIn connection tips:
- Don’t Pitch
- Connect Prior to Meeting
- Reply to Interesting Connection Requests
- Leverage Student Status and Alumni Community
- Mention Common Grounds
- Never Imply a Nonexistent Past Relationship
- Address “Why?”
- Similar Industry
- Value Alignment
Don’t Pitch Quite Yet
Make it all about them and do not use this first outreach as a sales effort. When you approach a new contact on LinkedIn, reference their background, research, expertise, etc. Let them know your interest in the subject matter and that you would like to connect to keep current on the topics they care about. Introduce yourself in the context of their interests.
Marti Konstant, Workplace Futurist
Connect Prior to Meeting
While it might be considered “creepy” to immediately request someone on Facebook right after you meet them, it is not the same with LinkedIn. The rule I have when connecting with professional contacts I meet or are referred to by others is to add those people right away! As a recruiting and staffing professional, I meet so many people from so many industries. When I meet someone at an event, no matter how many times I remind myself not to forget their name, I always do. I make LinkedIn connections right away so I don’t forget their information or miss out on opportunities with that contact.
Ryan Nouis, TruPath
Reply to Interesting Connection Requests
It seems like too many people request or accept a connection request without an exchange. One rule that seems to go far in developing relationships is to reply with a simple, “Thank you for the connection!” to select inbound requests. By initiating the conversation, you can learn more about the person behind the profile.
Vicky Franko, Insura
You should endorse them for their skills—people love this! If you are connecting with like-minded professionals, go for the skills in your field. If you are connecting with a recruiter, go for something that they specialize in, so on and so forth. The same goes if you are a sales professional and are prospecting, go with the reason why you’re reaching out. Most times, they’d have had a few highly endorsed skills already, you just have to click the big “+” button. Doing this sends them notifications and increases your chance of getting recognized and getting a reply—regardless of your reasoning for sending that connection request.
Hung Nguyen, Smallpdf
Leverage Student Status and Alumni Community
If you are currently a student, use it to your advantage! The great thing about being a student is that professionals in your industry are more than willing to help out, especially if they are alumni. Start by going to your university or college’s LinkedIn page and navigating to the alumni page. Type in keywords related to your interests or studies and start reaching out to professionals that you’d like to connect with! In my connection request, my one rule is to include my student status and explain why I am passionate about my field. If I am connecting with an alumni, I always include a P.S. and nod to Arizona State (ex: P.S. Forks Up!).
Thylan Le, Markitors
Mention Common Ground
Make your messages personalized to each connection. If you are connecting with someone new make sure to mention something you have in common or be specific about why you are reaching out. The person is more likely to respond if you personalize the message instead of just sending the connection request without a note.
Dana Felix, HR Analyst
Never Imply a Nonexistent Past Relationship
The number one rule that I have when asking for a connection in LinkedIn is to never imply a preexisting relationship that does not exist. There is a natural progression that relationships take that must be respected. The most valuable resource a person can give you is access to their network and that should be treated as sacred. If you cannot make that request without a clear value proposition to that person, go back to the drawing board.
Lukas Ruebbelke, Briebug
What is the “why” for connecting with me? I am more likely to engage with someone that helps me understand what made them select me in the first place. It also makes that first inMail seem less cold.
Steven Brown, DP Electric Inc
If a person is in a similar industry, I will typically approve the connection. You never know when you may be able to network with someone, or collaborate on a project. Many accept all invitations just to boost their connections. However, if you\’ve been on LinkedIn for a week, you should easily be able to spot a sales or marketing pitch, disguised as a connection invite.
Andrea Loubier, Mailbird
While it’s not a hard and fast rule, I do try to assess based on a person’s profile if there is a value alignment either by perusing their activity or reviewing what they highlight in their profile. If it does not seem like a values match, typically, I will decline a connection request. I also suggest trying to follow someone first before connecting. It may be that the connection at first glance seems favorable, but over time, questionable. Following the person first provides an appropriate distance so you can assess further before fully engaging this person in your professional circle, particularly if you have only met online.
Nadine Mullings, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation