Last week, I ranted a bit about how I’m COMPLETELY over connection requests that are immediately followed by something like the following:
“Thanks for connecting!
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I like to connect people with my account manager! He can talk to you about your website and company and can see if we can help you and your website out in any way.
If you were interested shoot me your best email and phone number! If not no worries Thanks in advance!”
Many of you lamented that you are done with them too. So as promised, this week I proudly present… “How to Connect Like an Actual Human and Build a Genuine Audience on LinkedIn Instead of Coming Across as Lazy and Self-Absorbed.” (Ok, ok, it was a bit long so I shortened it to the final title above).
Let’s get right into the tactics, shall we?
Keep it simple, silly. Look, the reality is that as LinkedIn’s active user base grows, more and more of us are accessing the platform via our mobile devices. Here’s the thing about connecting on mobile…it only gives a short preview window for a message. If there’s no message, you just confirm or deny the request. Many of us are accustomed to just accepting requests with no messages attached because we were primed by Facebook and Instagram, two platforms that don’t allow a message in a request. So, just keep it simple. Don’t send a message at all when you first connect. Easy. The majority of people these days are openly accepting requests anyway (unless your profile looks super spammy) so you don’t have to worry about the message.
2. AFTER that, follow up with something thoughtful.
After you connect with someone, first take the time to look at their previous activity and profile. Comment on some of their posts you find to be particularly intriguing. Leaving thoughtful commentary on someone’s statuses will trigger a notification to them, so they will see your name and that you took time to engage, and it will stroke their ego. Everyone loves when their thoughts are validated. Use this to your advantage.
3. After you publicly engage with their content, THEN send them a message.
I’m going to highlight someone who did this to me recently. Jonathan Mahan connected with me a few weeks ago. He engaged with some of my content, then he sent me a video remarking how he found my post about how I’ve scaled my business on LinkedIn to be inspiring. I mean LOOK at the first screenshot of this video:
So, guess who got time on my calendar when I can’t even manage to schedule a dentist appointment for myself? Jonathan. He established “know, like, and trust” immediately.
4. Get creative with your message.
Super personable, and yeah, I’m not too proud to admit I found it incredibly flattering. Jonathan shared something personal with me (how he aspires to grow a business), built immediate rapport by being vulnerable, and was very candid—he said he shared this video using a tool that he sells and while he’d be happy to send me info if I ever wanted to create my own, more than anything he just wanted to remark on my content.
Sending a “freemium” offering in a direct message used to be the way to lead with value. Example, “Hey Kait, we just connected, and I wanted to send you an e-book about how to scale your consulting business completely free.” Problem is this tactic is now commonplace and pretty transparent. Get creative instead. I liked Jonathan’s video. I got a feel for his personality and it wasn’t creepy at all (it’s true, fellas, us ladies always have the creep radar up when looking at messages on LinkedIn—you’d be surprised how many inappropriate ones we receive).
Don’t want to make a video? That’s easy, if you’re a graphic designer, maybe you send an image like the one shown below. When paired with a genuine statement like:
“Hey Kait, excited to be connected– I really enjoy your content. Graphic design is my passion, so I wanted to shoot you the graphic below saying thanks for accepting my request. I look forward to seeing more of your content in the feed. If you ever need any support, I’d be happy to help.”
5. Be honest about where you’re at.
If you do feel absolutely compelled to send a message on the first connection request, I would just send something short and sweet like the below:
“Hey Kait, I’m really working to build my LinkedIn network with people I find inspiring. Looking at your experience and content, you’re certainly one of those people. Hope we can connect.”
This works for a variety of reasons. Again, and I can’t underscore this enough if you couldn’t tell by my examples, flattery will get you everywhere. We are all just out here doing our best, it’s nice to be validated. Second, this message signals honesty and humility and appeals to our innate human desire to help people. Of course, I’ll join your network if you’re looking to grow it—who wouldn’t want to help you do that?
All in all, my biggest takeaways for you when connecting are:
- Be genuine. If you’re connecting with someone to grow your network, just say that in a kind way.
- Differentiate yourself. Whether it’s video, photo, a voice memo, whatever, know that you have about 2 seconds to make a great impression. Use a pattern disruptor to mark yourself as distinct from the litany of boring, spammy message in their inbox.
- Start with public praise or dialogue (via comments) then move into a personal message.
I’m curious to see what approach you find effective? How are you connecting with people? Do you have examples like Jonathan’s where you think someone did a really good job? Shoot me a direct message or comment below!