Having tested this across many industries with 1000s of messages, I can say with confidence that if you do this every time, on average we have seen a doubling of the number of people that accept your connection message.
To understand why this works, let's first of all, take a step back.On social media, people love sharing their own stories and experiences.
Social proof that others find useful or interesting are important measures to most users personally, and professionally.
All good sales people knew that helping out, adding value all the way through the sales process makes you stand out.
We also know that if we are not liked by our prospective clients that the relationship does not grow into the trusted partnership that is needed to work together.
To kick off your relationship on LinkedIn, most people search for a target prospective customer, and send them a request. We have all had them, and a lot of us have sent them to.
Hi George, Here's a tenuous link to ask for a connection, I may even have a strange looking variable! I'm probably going to sell something you don't need right now. Would you connect with me? Laura
For most people a good number of these will be declined, and if you're really out of favour, the recipient could say 'I don't know' you.
You may also have noticed that LinkedIn is encouraging you to report people you don't know. This does conflict with other advice in their help pages where you are encouraged to grow your network, but LinkedIn is keen to stop spammers.
If you decline a connection request in the app, there is a little banner that comes up where you are asked to click 'I don't know'.
These 'I don't knows' add up as little black marks, and eventually you'll get a limitation on your account.
One limitation that seems to be on the increase is on the number of connections you can send in a week. Another that has been used by LinkedIn for a long time is having to put in an email address every time you try to connect.
Limitations are inconvenient, and can be difficult to get lifted.
When connecting into new people, knowing the ratio of accept: decline is important, so keep track.
If your way of gaining is connections is to simply send out more invites, then stop.
Look at what you can do to increase your conversion rate instead.
Why do so many people decline a connection request?
One of the main drivers is that they think they are going to be sold to. People really don't like being sold to on social media!
You have to earn it.
People say to me that they only accept those that have put a little effort in. Deciding whether to accept or decline is a quick decision and one that you can influence.
The way you connect breeds openness and a great start to a relationship.
What never works is talking about what you sell in your connection message (well, you'll find a few for whom it does work which may encourage you to send out even more, but it'll lead to limitations - see above)
Once connected, treat your connections with care, by not sending them an unsolicited sales pitch in the next message, they are unlikely to open up to you, and they may even un-connect.
It is worth taking the effort to find some authentic common ground and then having a natural two-way conversation about that.
Perhaps you could only connect with those that you have genuinely come across from networking or you can mention some other specific and genuine reason for connecting.
All good, but it is time consuming and if you want to grow your network at pace, there is a quick, templated way you can show interest in them, flatter them a little, and don't look as though you are going to sell to them.
Having tested thousands of connection messages, I can tell you with evidence, that those that don't 'try too hard' perform the best. Short is good, and getting the specific in before the 'see more' (approx 14 words) is vital.
Here's the best performing template.
Hi George, I saw your post, and I 'liked' it. Would you care to connect?
This is all that is needed.
Variations work such as 'thumbs up; 'it prompted me to look at your profile' etc. work just as well.
The messages that perform the best across 90%+ profiles make reference to their post that has been published THAT DAY.
They can see you've taken a moment to look at them so they don't feel spammed. And it looks serendipitous.
From experience across 50 profiles, they click that accept approximately twice as often as they do from a cold connection request.
In some cases the connection acceptance rate was trebled.
However! Many of us want to connect with a target list, not just people whose posts come up on your home feed.
Checking all of these profiles to see if they've posted recently is time consuming, and you won't get the volume. Many people post infrequently, and liking a post from 3 weeks ago and then connecting loses that impression of authenticity & spontaneity that works so well on social media.
Linked In Sales Navigator Pro, and Sales Navigator Teams gives you the ability to save people into custom lists.
You can find everyone in your list who has posted today by filtering the Leads Home Page to 'Lead Shares'.
You can like/comment on the post within that view on Sales Nav. After that, click on the profile, view it on LinkedIn, and send the connection.
Be sure to be engaging with the lead, not the account.
(Sales Nav call them leads, but I call them FANs - your Future Advocacy Network)
If your target market are very active you'll need to replenish quickly and if they are less active on LinkedIn you will need a bigger pool.
This is where Sales Navigate Teams comes in, as the number of FANs you can save is increased from 1500 to 5000.
For a full-speed campaign you would need 2000-4000 FANS saved in Sales Nav.
For those that don't post, you can look to engage with content they have commented or liked. A shared conversation on a post is also a good reason to connect.
Of course, there will always be those that you'd love to work with that aren't active on LinkedIn at all, so it may be more difficult to reach them through their content first. These FANS are also less likely to engage in conversation with you on the platform in any way, so in using this method, you are also selecting those in your target organisations that may be more open to conversation on LinkedIn.
Another reason to connect in deep and wide with target companies.
If you are looking to benchmark yourself, if your connection acceptance rate is 50% or above then you are doing alright!