Rookie Mistakes To Avoid In Your LinkedIn Connection Requests

facepalm_estatua_smI was inspired to write this post due to the frequently disappointing connection requests I receive on LinkedIn. And believe me, I’m not a particularly critically-minded person or very difficult to please. My disappointment comes from people who either don’t put any effort in, or put the wrong kind of effort into these connection requests.

 

There are 2 rookie networking mistakes I see in these messages all the time.

I’m quite certain you’ve seen them too.

MISTAKE #1 – NO INFORMATION AT ALL.

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” It’s absolutely astounding how many people decide to send out the above canned, default LinkedIn request TO PEOPLE THEY’VE NEVER MET and expect a positive response! This communicates to me either sheer laziness, or a real inability to think from another person’s perspective, and always results in me tapping the “Ignore” button on the request. The simple test is: DO THEY KNOW YOU? or ARE YOU SURE THEY WOULD REMEMBER YOU FROM HAVING MET RECENTLY? If the answer is YES, then you can safely get away with using the default connection request text. Otherwise, put a little thought and effort into your message, or skip it. Give them a REASON to connect.

MISTAKE #2 – OFFERING YOUR SERVICES IN YOUR INTRODUCTION MESSAGE

Here’s a recent one a received:

connection-request1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, this text is generic and could EASILY have been an auto-generated message.

Second, let me say that if we DO in fact have mutual connections, that CAN be a plus, but only if you’re SPECIFIC about name-dropping someone that you have some sort of established relationship with, and who you’re fairly sure that I know, like and trust. Otherwise, I have no idea whether you really know any of these mutual connections or if you just ran into them at a networking event 6 years ago and have never spoken since.  This is especially true in light of the fact that many people are fairly “promiscuous” with their LinkedIn connections – they’ll accept requests from anyone – which just encourages the people who constantly make “Mistake #1” (above) and keeps these bad habits spreading around in an unending cycle.

Third, in the message above, this person makes the worst networking error of all – SELLING to a networking contact who never expressed an interest in your services. I’ll admit, in this message it’s a very soft sell, but it’s selling nevertheless.

The irony is, this person wanted to sell me their expert help with “scaling my business with LinkedIn”. Let’s just say I have my doubts about the quality of their services.

Networking is NOT selling.
Selling is NOT networking.

The unspoken understanding in a networking relationship is: don’t think of the other person as a prospect unless they express an interest in possibly becoming a customer. Until that happens (if it ever does), think of them as a potential professional partner and focus on finding ways to add value to their personal or professional lives. By all means inform them thoroughly about what you do and offer, but ONLY in the context of WHO ELSE THEY MIGHT KNOW that could benefit from your services.

Here’s how I would have re-written that connection request:

“Chris,

“A mutual connection of ours, Joe Jones, suggested I reach out to you. I noticed that we’re both in the business of helping professionals with different aspects of networking. Maybe we would benefit from getting to know one another, and possibly sending business each other’s way.

“Let me know if you’d be open to a phone call, so we can get better acquainted.”

In this version, no pressure is placed on the recipient; no sales defenses triggered. A simple value proposition was offered of a potential referral relationship. Obviously, when we talk he will learn all about what I do and vice versa. If he happens to want to use my services himself, he will tell me. If not, that’s fine too. The real value being sought is from all the potential referrals and introductions we could send each other’s way, as we come to know, like and trust each other over time.

Conclusion

By applying these two principles in your own connection requests, and encouraging others to do the same, we can hopefully encourage better habits among our fellow LinkedIn users, and thereby make it a more productive platform for all of us.