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Sujan Patel sales 0

LinkedIn Connection Request Message Best Practices + Templates

The way we buy has changed, and this shift has led companies to reexamine the way they sell. No longer limited to just purchasing lists and making phone calls, sales teams are taking a proactive approach to lead generation. Most notably, this includes building connections and growing relationships to earn trust and increase awareness. In fact, this practice has become so common, there’s a name for it: social selling.

For B2B sales teams, LinkedIn is proving to be a major influence in social selling. More than 98% of sales reps with 5,000 or more LinkedIn connections meet – or exceed – their sales quota. Of the more than 500 million users, 61 million are senior-level influencers, and 40 million are in decision-making positions. Compared side by side with Twitter and Facebook, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, and nearly 80% of marketers agree that LinkedIn is an effective source for generating leads.

To capitalize on these numbers for yourself, it’s important to play up the “social” aspect of social selling – and connecting directly with users is the first step. If you’re not quite sure how to get the ball rolling, check out these best practices for sending LinkedIn connection request messages, along with templates you can copy to get started.

Personalize Your Message

When you go to send a connection request message, you’ll see something like this:

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It’s tempting to click “Send Now” because it requires no extra effort, but you’ll see better results if you tailor your message to the user. Cookie-cutter messages are ineffective at best.

When you don’t customize your connection request, your recipient sees something along the lines of “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” This gives the user no context as to who you are, or why you want to connect.

Personalization can go much further in building the relationship. Use the person’s name and write something unique and specific to them. For example:

Hi Jan!

It was great meeting you at yesterday’s seminar. I’d love to connect and learn more about ABCSolutions and stay up to date with what your company is doing.

Talk soon!

John

This is more time-consuming, but it’s completely worth it if it means making a strong first impression.

Connect on Common Ground

One of the biggest advantages of connecting on LinkedIn is that you can seek out some common ground to add authenticity to your introduction. It’s not always easy to break the ice with someone you don’t know, but sales reps are continually reaching out to people with little to no knowledge of who they are.

Do a little recon on their LinkedIn profile and see if you can find something you have in common. Then, share that information in your introduction:

Hi Jack!

I noticed you went to Clemson University – I graduated from there myself four years ago! I’d love to connect with you and see how we might be able to support each other professionally.

To your success,

Mark

This helps you avoid copying and pasting the same message to every prospect, and it shows you took the time to learn more about them and are genuinely interested in establishing a connection.

You can also check them out on other social channels like Facebook or Twitter first, both to find out information about them, and to try to establish a connection by liking some of their posts, retweeting them, or commenting on an article they wrote. That way, when you reach out on LinkedIn, your name will already sound familiar to them.

Ask a Mutual Connection for an Introduction

One of the best features of LinkedIn is seeing who knows the same people you do – or if a connection knows someone you want to know.

If you have a shared connection, ask for an introduction. Here’s an example from Social Sales Link CEO Brynne Tillman:

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Alternatively, if you can’t get an introduction, use your shared connection as a talking point:

Hi Mike,

I noticed we’re both connected to Jim Clark, the CEO of 123 Packaging Inc. Jim and I collaborated on a project and he spoke highly of you. I’d love to add you to my professional network so we can support each other.

Looking forward to connecting,

Abby

Be Clear About Why You Chose Them

There’s a reason why you chose to connect with certain people. How did you find them and what specifically prompted you to connect?

These are questions your recipient will likely have, so address them up front in your message, like this:

Hi Suzie,

I see you’re the new HR manager at Team Sports – congratulations! I’ve worked with your company on projects in the past and would love to connect with you. Feel free to reach out anytime!

Miranda

Get Straight to the Point

When you send a connection request message, you’re automatically limited to 300 characters – slightly longer than a tweet. This forces you to get creative from the start and carefully choose what you want to say.

To maximize those 300 characters, follow the 5 P’s. Your request should be:

  • Polite
  • Pertinent
  • Personal
  • Professional
  • Praiseworthy

You should have enough room to include their name, something personal, a reason for connecting, an invitation to connect, a closing phrase (such as thanks, talk soon, etc.), and your name.

Each of the example templates above follow this same format and are within the 300 character limit. But even if your message ends up under the limit, look for ways to tighten it up even further. Take out extra words and read it out loud to make sure it flows.

Don’t Sell

Studies show that 54% of social sellers can trace their social media efforts back to at least one closed deal. But interestingly, social selling isn’t really about selling – it’s about building connections and relationships.

For a salesperson, it’s tempting to start pitching immediately. But beginning the conversation with a sales pitch can destroy all the authenticity and trust you’re trying to build.

More than 60% of employees at large companies agree that social selling allows them to create more authentic relationships with prospects and customers. When done correctly, sales become a natural byproduct of a strong, valuable relationship.

Keep the Conversation Alive

Valuable connections are never one-sided. Granted, you’re making the initial effort to reach out, but you also want your prospect to participate in the process. You believe they could be valuable to you, so you also want to show why you could be valuable to them.

To facilitate this, make sure you not only give them a reason to connect, but also to reply. Here’s an example:

Hi Sally!

One of our mutual connections, Kathy, shared an article you wrote on the basics of supply chain management. I really like the insights you shared and wanted to reach out and connect. I’ve actually worked with companies in this area myself and would love to discuss over coffee sometime. Let me know when we might be able to chat.

Alisa

Didn’t Connect? Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Follow-up is one of the most critical actions in sales, and similar rules apply to the initial outreach. Studies show that 92% of sales reps give up after four attempts, but 80% of sales require more than four attempts to close.

There could be a number of reasons you don’t get a response to your initial invitation:

  • Your message is more of a sales pitch than a genuine desire to connect.
  • You used the standard LinkedIn message rather than personalizing it to the user.
  • The message was too long so the user didn’t read it all.
  • The user isn’t sure who you are or why you want to connect.

Any of these can kill your chances of making a successful connection. If you were guilty of one (or all) of the above on your first attempt, make sure you don’t make the same mistakes when you follow up.

Silence is not an answer during any part of the sales cycle, including the initial outreach. Keep in mind it can take more than one attempt to make the connection. Use this template to send a polite yet encouraging follow-up message via InMail:

Hi Sam,

I know you’re probably as busy as I am, but I wanted to check to see if you got my initial request to connect. I noticed you work at XYZ Inc. and would love to explore ways we can help each other in the future.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Sarah

What to Do Next

Did you make a successful connection? Celebrate the win, but don’t stop there. The worst thing you can do at this point is to go dark.

When you reach out to connect with someone, that isn’t your end goal – it’s just the first step in creating what will hopefully be a long and prosperous relationship. But all too often, the relationship ends as soon as a prospect accepts your request because of poor follow-up.

Continue nurturing your leads on LinkedIn to move the conversation forward. You’ve already overcome one of the toughest parts, which is to get on their radar in the first place. At this point, it’s a matter of proving your value and relevance so that each of you can walk away with something positive.

Do you have your own secret for sending LinkedIn connection requests? Share your success stories in the comment below: