power your advice

How to Write a Cold Linkedin Request That Gets Accepted

Getting someone to accept your Linkedin connection request is a combination of copywriting and relationship building. You've got to be good at both. Despite how bad people are at this, it's not that hard.Despite the title of this post, I'm not going to give you a script. Instead, I'll give you a framework.

Do's and Don'ts

To start, in order to show you how to do this properly, I should show you how NOT to do it. I'm not going to call these people out by name and the point of showing these examples is not to suggest that any of these individuals are bad people, spammers, or otherwise unintelligent. But, I do think that their approach sucks and will likely be woefully ineffective compared to the approach I describe below.I got this one recently...Hey Jeff! It looks like you do some impressive work in the marketing industry. As a business owner, I’m always looking to grow my network and I thought it made sense for us to connect. If you’re open to it, let’s connect!

Bio Headline

"I help coaches, consultants and agency owners generate qualified leads using Linkedin"

Why I'll ignore

Bro, I see through you. Aside from the vague flattery and abrupt pivot to what you're looking to do, I know that as soon as I accept this, you're going to pitch me on why I should work with you to generate leads using Linkedin.Ironically, it's this approach that makes me question whether or not you can actually do what your headline suggests.Next up in my Linkedin Inbox, I see this one...Hi there, I am doing some old fashioned outreach trying to connect with firms. :) Our company provides creative & web development solutions, ongoing or on-call basis, to advertising/marketing agencies, software development firms, graphic design firms, printing companies, & other boutique agencies.

Bio Headline

Business Development Manager at [Company]

Why I'll ignore

While I like the smiley face and I appreciate that this person is being upfront and letting me know that this is a cold outreach, I don't need any of that. Since this person is in business development and their message is all about what they provide this is a standard sales email. If I did need any of these services, I'd go and seek it out through a referral or mutual connection not because a stranger showed up, uninvited, in my inbox.Next...Hi Jeff, I’m making an effort to expand my network with Marketing and Advertising leaders. Would you be open to connecting?

Bio Headline

I'm not going to post this person's headline.

Why I'll Ignore

I'll be straight with you, I don't love this message, because I don't really care that this person is making an effort to expand their network. However, this person had over 40 mutual connections with me, they're in Philadelphia, what they do for work doesn't lead me to believe that I'm about to get pitched, and they are specifically trying to grow a network of people in MY industry. They also called me a "leader," so I'm both flattered and at least a little intrigued. So, I accepted it.

The Rise Of The Impatient: Cold Connection Requests

If you're like me, one of the biggest takeaways you'll notice from these three examples is whether or not I sense I'm about to be sold to by a stranger or whether connecting with them benefits me in some way.I don't advocate that you ever send a cold Linkedin connection request but, if you're going to do it, here is your framework:
  • Write your message
  • Then, put yourself in the shoes of the person you're reaching out to
  • Then, read the message and ask yourself "what's in it for me?"
  • Keep in mind, in the examples above, THEY are reaching out to ME. It's far from presumptuous to expect that it should include a message about why it benefits me. NO ONE is sitting around on Linkedin waiting to be sold to but nearly everyone likes to hear opportunity knocking!We're all really busy and we all have egos. If you want to get someone's attention, figure out how to make it more attractive for them to click accept than it is for them to click ignore. Talk about them specifically.
  • What do you like about them? Specifically.
  • Why are you interested in them? Specifically.
  • How will connecting benefit them? Specifically.
  • We've all gotten pretty good at sniffing out BS, so just be up front.Cold Linkedin outreach is a tough business to be in and quite frankly, I don't think it's worth your time. If you're going to send a cold connection request, know that you are wasting a tremendous amount of time, for piss poor results, and risk potentially ruining any future chance to actually make a connection with that person.So, here's what I would suggest instead.

    First, Become Known

    I'm not talking about becoming a well-known thought leader or celebrity, although that never hurts. I mean become known by the person you seek to connect to.For example...In addition to Linkedin, I am on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Pinterest. I also have a website / blog, a podcast, and I am a partner at a Digital Marketing Agency. Is making your first communication with me a pitch, as a stranger, in a Linkedin connection request, the best you can do? Of course not!I, like many people in 2019, am widely available online. It wouldn't even take much for you to find one of my email addresses.Instead of rushing to the sale on Linkedin, go deeper into social selling...even if you're not trying to SELL me something other than becoming connections.
  • Go over to my Twitter, and reply to a few of my posts, get my attention, engage me in a dialogue, then ask if I'd mind connecting on Linkedin.
  • Go over to my blog and comment on a post. Do that a few times until I recognize who you are by your avatar.
  • Listen to an episode of my podcast (it's really good by the way) and send me an email about it or comment on the episode. Show me that you care about what I'm working on.
  • Do something, anything other than trying to sell me in a connection request. If you do any of those things, you can be sure that your success rate will skyrocket.

    What's my evidence that this works?

    Oh, you want a case study? Well, I'm not going to give you one.Instead, I'm going to ask you: do YOU accept random cold Linkedin messages with the same frequency as people you recognize by name or face? Do you think you are that different from anyone else in this regard? Are you seeking out a data point to confirm that most human beings don't want to be sold to in short messages from strangers?

    We need to have a reason to connect

    Connections aren't baseball cards. We're not here to rack up numbers of strangers. We're here to forge real human connections and relationships. We're here to extract value. We're here to add value.Keep all of that in mind and you should be fine.And, to those who take the cold approaches that I opened this post with, stop with the formulaic connection requests where you start with vague flattery and transition into an uninteresting description of what you're trying to accomplish. Because, the truth is, no one cares. You know it and your results probably show it.Related: The Five Key Elements of Social Media