It is said today that people who don’t have social media accounts almost don’t exist.
A similar analogy can be used to explain the relationship between contemporary business professionals and LinkedIn.
In a nutshell: if you don’t have an active LinkedIn profile, you’re only a silhouette of a businessperson.
LinkedIn stats are terrifying. We’ll use the data available on the Foundation website to illustrate the current power of this business network:
- 500 million registered users
- 61 million members working in senior management
- 45% of the LinkedIn reading audience are C-level managers
- Fortune 500 companies prefer LinkedIn for B2B communication
- Only 1 million LinkedIn users have published articles on this network
All these stats show one thing: if you want to be taken seriously in the online business realm, start interacting with others on LinkedIn on a daily basis.
The first step on this quest is learning how to formulate a convincing LinkedIn connection request.
A Neat Profile for Smooth Networking
If we think of our online personas as business products, our social media profiles are our packages.
Now, let’s make a simple but effective analogy with shopping.
When you go to the supermarket, you probably pay attention to the colors and packages of different brands.
A brand that packs its products in a more attractive package will catch your eye sooner than a bland one.
Our social media profiles are our packages that need to attract other LinkedIn users. If possible, one from that group of 45% of C-level managers.
So, before you even consider sending out your first LinkedIn invitation request, populate your profile with all the essential information about yourself.
In addition to your name, address, and skills include your alma mater, your hometown, and the place where you’re living now.
All these details will help you connect with LinkedIn users with similar interests as well as career or life paths.
Now you’re ready to start your networking quest on LinkedIn.
Preparing the Ground for Invitations
One of the key features of every LinkedIn connection request is the level of familiarity between the parties in question.
Connecting with your current coworkers is a piece of cake because you know each other well enough.
Similarly, expanding your network with your friends from school doesn’t require any special communication.
However, these people will make up to 100 contacts on your list.
For most other potential connections, you need to prepare the ground before you send them a connection request.
If you spot a noteworthy user or opinion-maker in your niche, start liking their posts. When possible, leave comments under those posts and engage in discussions.
Avoid making impolite or pointless comments if you want to leave a positive impression.
That way, they’ll become aware of your existence before you send them a connection request.
Follow-Up Invitations After Business Events
The worst thing that you can do on LinkedIn is to look spammy. If you use LinkedIn, you know what kind of people we’re talking about here.
Adding hundreds or thousands of connections without any order or common ground is a bad practice.
Instead of that, it’s recommended to gradually build your LinkedIn networking empire with familiar people.
For instance, sending follow-up invitations to people you meet at business events is a smart thing to do.
In those cases, you’ve already generated some leads. Those people will remember you when they receive your invitation.
For instance, you can formulate your message as follows:
Dear Mr. Sobchak,
We talked about the recent trends in the car industry at the Audi stand yesterday. I would like to send you some materials regarding our manufacturing process. Please, add me to your network.
What’s important for this invitation is not to wait for too long to send it.
The sooner you send it, the less likely that person is to forget your conversation.
Connections Based on Mutual Interests
Just like we pointed out in the previous paragraph, some LinkedIn users keep adding random contacts from various niches.
This practice is bad for two main reasons.
On the one hand, it might look spammy because such users might seem to be searching for other gullible users. You’ll recognize them by invitations without any additional text..
On the other hand, adding too many different people to your network will reduce your visibility to professionals from your niche.
Therefore, we suggest establishing connections with business professionals who you share some mutual interests with.
From the same alma mater and current/previous employers to the industry or niche within it, you need to have something in common.
Let’s say that you’ve come across an interesting entrepreneur living in your area. You can contact him or her with the following message:
I also work as a self-employed copywriter. I’ve noticed that we work in the same niche and live in the same area. I think we could establish a professional collaboration.
Instead of sending an empty message, these few sentences will shed a different light on the entire invitation. In other words, you’ll look more professional and convincing, and your approach will be personalized which is extremely important when it comes to forging a long-lasting connections.
What’s more important, stressing out that you live in the same area is a subtle but effective nudge for the prospect to accept your invitation. Even though LinkedIn is a global network, it can have a strong local effect, as well.
Concise Communication Is a Must
We’ve already pointed out that messages sent on LinkedIn upon the invitation should highlight the things that connect you and the person you want to connect with.
What’s also important is that those messages remain concise and effective. Every message in the LinkedIn connection request is limited to 300 characters.
Instead of writing essays about your skills and experience, you need to focus on your strongest points.
On the other hand, invitation recipients don’t have to waste their time reading long messages.
That way, every request you send out to your potential connections has to be concise and to the point.
For starters, you can practice writing such messages by creating short and witty posts on LinkedIn and Twitter. This routine will help you develop your writing style, as well.
So, when a potential connection reads your message and sees your posts, they’ll be able to spot your expertise at once.
Finally, it’s important to catch the eye of your potential connections by including catchy and compelling subject lines in your InMail messages.
Why (Not) to Pitch in Connection Requests
Although you should use LinkedIn for your social selling efforts, pitching and selling features via LinkedIn connection requests should be avoided.
It’s true that some commercial entities do that, but individual businesspeople will have more damage than success if they follow this approach.
The point of every individual LinkedIn network is to increase the number of relevant contacts that can help business professionals get better job opportunities.
However, including a sales pitch in connection requests, before you have a chance to establish a more meaningful relationship with someone, will be perceived as pushy. Besides, this strategy is very short-sighted.
Contrary to that, you need to look as professional and knowledgeable as possible.
After all, what you usually do when you get a salesy connection request on LinkedIn? You probably simply ignore such an invitation.
So, if you want to expand your network and increase your business potentials, don’t use LinkedIn connection requests to offer anything that people need to pay for.
The Final Word
Building a vast LinkedIn network is something that every member of this social media platform wants.
However, adding crowds of people to your connection list will have an opposite effect: you’ll become less visible to business pros in your niche.
What you should do instead is slowly expand your network with relevant professionals from your field of work.
Also, make sure to prepare the ground for every important invitation you’re planning to send. Take part in the online activities of these people and let them find out about you before you reach out to them directly.
It’s clever to send connection requests immediately after you meet a new lead or colleague. Time is money in every element of business, so LinkedIn is no exception.
Last, but not least, you shouldn’t use connection requests on LinkedIn for sales or other commercial actions.
Those business people who implement all or most of these practices in their LinkedIn strategy should have constant growth in the number of connections and business opportunities.