One of the most common social selling questions I’m asked is: Can I send LinkedIn connection requests to cold prospects?
The answer: Yes, you can. BUT… Don’t mess it up, you need to know how to request a connection on LinkedIn. In this post, I am going to discuss:
First, let’s establish one thing upfront. Blind cold connection requests are NOT — and, I repeat — NOT what Social Selling is all about. Rather, these LinkedIn tips you will read are a methodical and holistic approach to creating engagement with your targeted audience.
In all circumstances, your objective is not to “spray and pray” connect requests. Rather, it’s to find unique opportunities to ENGAGE and HELP your buyers, which drive a warm connection.
Second, what I’m going to share with you does work. I have spent years perfecting my formula and have found that based upon the industry by which you sell to, the percentage can go up or down. My organization sells to Sales, Marketing, and Sales Enablement leaders.
So, here is the proof it works. Using my personal stats alone, between Jan 31 and April 2 and 2016 we sent and/or received a total of 1,129 LinkedIn connection requests.
At that same time, we added 836 LinkedIn requests. This brings us to a 74% acceptance rate! The goal, of course, is to establish a 100% connection acceptance rate no doubt.
Now let’s talk about the GOAL of creating a new LinkedIn connection for a Social Seller. Of course, there are many. However, in our social selling training, I focus on seven goals of a new connection.
- Build a Relationship
- Drive Sales
- Create Referrals
- Build your Personal Brand
- Be Discovered
Growing your Network Through LinkedIn Connection Requests
With social selling, your primary goal is to create a POSITIVE engagement. Sales engagement means your targeted buyer is in some way, shape, or form ENGAGING with you. Engaging does not just mean they are writing a message back to you or responding to you via social media. Engagement could be as simple as your targeted audience has just looked at your LinkedIn profile.
In my training, that is a minimum baseline level engagement, and it can be the first step to creating further engagement.
Again, Social Selling leaders will teach many techniques and approaches. I, however, teach our clients to focus on these 10 ways to grow their LinkedIn Connections / Followers. You can learn more about this in our LinkedIn Training Program!
- One-2-One Social Engagement
- Leverage Trigger Events
- Ask for Referral
- Leverage Profile Views & Twitter Followers
- Use Likes, Comments, Shares to create engagement
- Long Blogs
- Special Messaging Campaigns
- Engage with LinkedIn followers
- Simply ASK to Connect
In all cases, after you have established a LinkedIn connection — DO NOT under any circumstances send a LinkedIn connection message immediately to your new connection asking them for a sales meeting unless they have asked for it. That is one of the quickest ways to turn off your potential new friend. It seems so logical – yet why do I receive this type of message multiple times per day from new and seasoned reps? Please, sales rep, DON’T mess up your potential new connection and make #YourBrandSuck!
LinkedIn Connection Request Limit
How many LinkedIn requests can I send? Effective as of the middle of 2021, LinkedIn changed it’s algorithm, so that now all users should only be sending no more than 100 per week!
That being said, there isn’t a LinkedIn connection request limit per day, but per week. Be careful when connecting with people to not get caught in the platform’s jail, don’t mass connect on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn jail is when your LinkedIn user account is suspended for sending too many connection requests in combination with receiving too many persons declining your connection requests. If you are thrown in LinkedIn jail, you likely have to wait for 5pm local time for your account to be released from suspended status.
Generally, you are thrown in LinkedIn jail up to three times before they shut down your account. However, if you are mimicking non-human behavior (like leveraging a bot), LinkedIn reserves the right to suspend your account and then require you to send some form of identification in to release your account. Whatever you do avoid getting caught in LinkedIn jail.
In all cases, remember, again, there’s a LinkedIn connection limit, do not send all of the connection requests at one time. Spread it out throughout the week.
How to Delete a LinkedIn Connection Request
Before I teach you how to send a cold LinkedIn invitation you need to know how to cancel a LinkedIn request in the event you accidentally didn’t personalize it or you write the wrong thing and want to redo it. Note finding how to cancel is extremely difficult and it’s almost a hidden feature. But never fear that is why we have our LinkedIn training course to help you.
If you are using the desktop here are the steps you’d take to cancel your LinkedIn connection request. From the LinkedIn Home page
- Click My Network (at the top navigation bar)
- Above your “received” invitations (in the middle) section on the top right-hand side is a “See All XX” – Click it. Believe it or not, it’s hyperlinked.
- Click the “Sent” tab
- Click “Withdraw”
Now if you just want to speed up the process, just click here and it will bring you straight to the page!
Sending Cold LinkedIn Connection Requests and Getting them Accepted
How can you effectively send cold LinkedIn Connection Requests and get them accepted?
Before I answer this question, repeat after me: “Social Selling is not about spraying and praying LinkedIn connection requests.” OK. Now, that we have established that. . .
One portion of my success formula after a potential buyer has viewed my LinkedIn profile is to simply ask them to connect. Remember, a profile view = ENGAGEMENT! I don’t know what they read or how much they read, but I do know they know my picture and/or name.
I also know that as a social seller managing the page “Who’s Viewed my Profile” on LinkedIn is a GOLD Mine! Make that page become your friend! It the page which looks like this:As a #socialselling rep the “Whose Viewed my Profile” pg. on @LinkedIn is a GOLD Mine! @M_3Jr #SellingWithLinkedIn #SalesClick To Tweet
Within 24-48 hours maximum, after I’ve received a profile view from them, I will send a LinkedIn connection request to invite them to join my professional network. What do I say to warrant a 74% connection rate? Remember you only have 300 characters to make this as personal as possible.
How to Write a LinkedIn Connection Request Message
The secret all-time tip is mine “Who Viewed Your Profile” everyday and multiple times a day. The moment someone looks at your profile that IS a social selling trigger event, and in fact gives you permission to reach out and engage.
How to write the perfect LinkedIn connection request? What should I write? Here is one of the messages which contributes to a 74% acceptance rate:
Hey FIRST NAME! Thx for viewing my LinkedIn profile! After viewing yours, I would be honored to have you in my network to learn from and network with you! We also share common connections! If open, here is the connection request! Looking forward to learning from you! Mario
In the above LinkedIn connection message, note I mentioned I would be honored to have them in my LinkedIn network and would like to learn from them. This is all true. I ABSOLUTELY love learning from fellow sales and marketing leaders and reps (my target buyer persona).
In addition, I established that we have mutual connections. Of course, the best LinkedIn message would be to determine whom we know in common and certainly something I found of personal interest to them after reviewing their profile. But remember, we are talking about cold LinkedIn connection requests here.
Finally, in the above request, they have one choice to make – click the checkmark to accept or the X to decline.
What if I Want to “Cold Connect” with my Target Buyer, Should I Do it?
In social selling, the best option is always to look for an avenue to get a warm referral. However, as my list shows above, Simply Asking is #10 on the list. So yes I would encourage you to do it, after you have exhausted your other social selling methods like leveraging a warm referral!
Finally, remember there is NO better message than the most personalized approach. Always look for material within their profile to “connect” with your potential buyer on a personal level.
And here is my best advice on cold connecting. Cold connections have a much higher probability of being accepted if they are a 2nd-degree connection. The lesson? Filter only for 2nd-degree connections on LinkedIn when sending a cold connection!
LinkedIn Connection Request Message Template – 2nd Degree’s
Here is a personalized message to a 2nd degree + someone in the SAME LinkedIn group as myself, then I will write:
Hey FIRST NAME! LI suggested I might know you given our shared connections & we are in the LI group called Sales Director. After viewing your profile & being a former VP of Sales, I’d love to have you as part of my network to learn from & network with you. If open, here’s the request! Mario
If you closely read the messages above, you will quickly see the psychology behind the messaging.
So, there you have it. . . One of the secrets shared as to how I create new connections on LinkedIn. Does it work? I would say a 74% success rate constitutes the answer is yes!
How To Properly Prospect to new LinkedIn Connections Post Your Requests
One of the most important qualities a sales rep must possess is knowing how to prospect. Most sales professionals don’t realize that selling with LinkedIn is not only possible but also powerfully effective and LinkedIn selling is a requirement for today’s modern buying engagement. Do it right and you can win big. Do it wrong and you can ruin your brand quite rapidly.
Many argue that due to the number of sales prospecting tools available to sales professionals, prospecting is as easy as ever. But sadly, many still continue to call their prospect list and ask questions that could have easily been avoided had you performed proper sales prospecting.
The challenge comes when once you’ve connected to them on LinkedIn, what next? During a recent podcast with Ed Calnan, Founder and CRO of Seismic, I go through how every salesperson should approach their ideal prospect and how by using personalization and storytelling, you will be able to create sales engagement.