Why I Accept or Reject a LinkedIn Connection Request

By Melonie Dodaro

You may be trying to grow your LinkedIn network for a number of reasons. It could be to expand your professional network or use LinkedIn to find and connect with new potential clients.

How do you write a LinkedIn connection request when sending an invite to someone you don’t know? Sending a generic connection request may result in an acceptance from time to time. But sending an impersonal connection request will most often not work when trying to connect with decision-makers, influencers and other people who could become great clients for you.

And it’s risky if a handful of the people who reject your connection request also click “I don’t know this person” option. You could end up getting your LinkedIn account restricted. When that happens, you will no longer be able to send a LinkedIn connection request to someone whose email you do not know.

Like with any first impression, you have only one chance to get it right. That’s why it’s incredibly important for your LinkedIn connection request to interest your potential connection right away. To accomplish that, you need to tell them – from their point of view – why you want to connect with them.

Sitting nearly at LinkedIn’s cap of 30,000 first-degree connections, I happen to know quite a bit about the kind of messages that will convince people to accept your connection request as well as reject it. In fact, just recently my LinkedIn inbox was flooded with 2,319 messages in one week.

Normally, my advice to others is to check the profile of the person sending the connection request to see whether you want to connect with this person. But in my particular situation, it would have been impossible to go through 2,319 profiles before accepting or rejecting each request. That is a lot of requests, even for me.

How did I decide which ones to accept and which ones to decline? Remember I said first impressions count?

When you make a great first impression with your connection request, people are more likely to respond favourably to you and accept your request. But if you make a bad first impression, there’s no way to undo that. And that means fewer professional opportunities for you.

Just how many of those 2,319 requests made the cut? Not many. There are two reasons for that. I want a relevant, quality network; and the majority of connection requests and messages I received were not personalized and completely failed the first impression test.

You might be thinking now, “But Melonie, of course, you’re going to be a harsh judge. You TEACH people how to connect and converse on LinkedIn.” But it isn’t actually that difficult to get a connection accepted by me.

If the connection request is courteous, professional, friendly, complimentary and genuinely relevant, I will often accept it. When you are trying to connect with a complete stranger, you need to give them a reason to click the accept button.

Now, I want to give you a quick warning. I am going to be brutally honest in this post to help you understand what to do if you want to get your connection requests accepted. Likewise, I’ll tell you what not to do to avoid having your account restricted.

While I would prefer not to offend anyone, I would rather help YOU understand how to successfully connect with prospects, decision-makers and influencers so that you generate more clients and build your business.

That’s because when it comes down to it, if your connection messages aren’t relevant to these people, they won’t connect with you. No connections means no opportunities, which means no growth for your business. But if you can connect with confidence, competence, relevance and maybe a little bit of charm, you’ll go far on LinkedIn.

How to Get Accepted

Offer a genuine compliment. Be specific about what you liked, why you liked it and how it helped. Do your homework. Show that you have researched the person you want to connect with by mentioning something specific about them, their company or content.

Be relevant. Ask yourself: “Have I given this person a good reason to connect with me?” Be friendly. It’ll be their first impression of you; be friendly and courteous.

Show commonality. Mention something you share in common. Be original. Make sure every connection request you send is tailored to the person you are sending it to. Give them a reason to connect. Don’t be vague and say “we should connect” without offering a relevant reason. Do not make it all about you. Just like in real life, when new connections talk only about themselves, they turn people off.

Don’t brag. Similar to the point above, boasting about all the great things you do is irrelevant to the person reading your message. They want to know about how you can help THEM, so craft your message to subtly demonstrate that. Never send a sales pitch. Do not send anything that could be perceived as a sales pitch, whether blatantly or sneakily.

Don’t ask for favors. The rudest thing you can do on LinkedIn is to ask someone to work for free, especially when you don’t know them yet and haven’t offered them anything of value first.

Now that you see there is a distinctly right and wrong way to approach sending LinkedIn connection requests, I hope you are committed to avoiding the faux pas so many people often make.

By using the examples and tips I have shared here, you will be able to grow your connections and kickstart your LinkedIn relationships. It isn’t rocket science. Just stick to the principles outlined in this article, and watch your network grow.

If you found this article helpful, please share it on LinkedIn so we can get more people connecting the right way. To learn more about how to use LinkedIn effectively, check out my new LinkedIn Leads video series. In it, you’ll find three videos that will teach you how to elevate your personal brand, attract more clients and build your authority – all with a few simple changes to your LinkedIn approach.

Melonie Dodaro is a preeminent authority on social selling on LinkedIn and the author of the #1 bestselling book LinkedIn Unlocked. She is also the CEO of Top Dog Social Media, a company specializing in B2B social selling on LinkedIn. Melonie’s superpower is creating strategies that turn cold connections into clients. To learn more visit TopDogSocialMedia.com.