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LinkedIn is all about building and leveraging your network. For anyone who has invested time and energy in your profile, you have likely sent and received your fair share of Connection Requests (CRs). While many do not send a message (a topic we will save for another day), for every great CR message, I would guess you have seen at least twice the number of really bad ones.
Now this blog is not meant to shame anyone but it is important to talk about WHY these messages simply do not work and the impression they elicit. You get 300 characters to make your case as to why someone should add you to their network. It is too precious to waste on a bad message.
Here are the best of the worst I have seen this year, why I chose IGNORE and what would have made me ACCEPT them:
The Sales Pitch
IGNORE: Don’t pitch people in a CR. An aggressive sales pitch does not make a good first impression.
ACCEPT: Let people know what you do but present it in a way that makes them want to learn more, shows that you are interested in what they do and opens the door.
The Swing & Miss
IGNORE: Don’t send a CR with a very specific industry or specialty without making sure that is relevant to the person on the receiving end. In case you didn’t know, I don’t work in nor have any expertise in e-commerce.
ACCEPT: Look at people’s profiles to make sure they are the right audience for your outreach. If you are doing a search, it’s even more important to do this as LinkedIn searches can be broad.
The “How is that relevant to me?”
IGNORE: Don’t send a CR with random information and no clear reason as to why you want to connect. While it’s great this guy played baseball in college, I am not sure how that is relevant to me. And the second example is even more of a head-scratcher. Is this person doing research to see if their hypothesis stands up?
ACCEPT: Let people know WHY you are interested in connecting. I have some examples at the end that of this article show how you can do this effectively.
IGNORE: Don’t use bots. Not only are they easy to spot (like when you receive an identical message) but LinkedIn is cracking down on 3rd party applications that can get you thrown in LinkedIn Jail.
ACCEPT: Send authentic messages to your targets. It’s great to develop a few templates but be sure to make them as personal as possible.
Too Much, Too Soon
IGNORE: Don’t ask people to take an action on LinkedIn that benefits you unless you have developed a relationship with them. We all strive for engagement on LinkedIn and work hard to create great content relevant to our audience. Asking for people to comment on your post in a CR is presumptuous and self-serving.
ACCEPT: Make the message relevant to your targets and when they accept, comment on one of their posts! This is a great way to build a relationship and will be noticed and likely reciprocated.
The (Confused) Bot
IGNORE: Don’t use the same messaging as your co-workers in a CR. I want to give this company the benefit of the doubt that they did not coordinate efforts and hope it’s not because they are using an automation tool for CRs.
ACCEPT: If your company is making an effort to build your LinkedIn networks, please coordinate on targets and messaging. It just looks bad to get the same message, especially one as memorable as this example.
Now that I’ve shared the worst, here are some examples of messages that will get people to hit ACCEPT:
- I saw your comment on another post. I like connecting with _____ professionals from around the world, so I am reaching out.
- We both attended the recent lunch and learn with _________. Wasn’t it so interesting? I would love to connect.
- Thanks for engaging on my recent post. I really appreciate your perspective. Let’s connect!
- I read your recent article in ______. Great piece – gave me a lot to think about. I would love to connect on LinkedIn.
- I listened to your recent webinar with ________________. I was impressed with your tips and am going to test a few out myself. I would be glad to connect
The common theme – the sender makes it clear that they know who I am and what I do. They are pulling from real LinkedIn activity and engagement which tells me they value the platform and will be a great addition to my network.
As we head into 2021, consider how you approach your LinkedIn connection strategy. We all want to grow our networks, but bigger is not always better. At the end of the day, building real relationships with people is what holds the most value.
Be real, be authentic, be human.
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