How to write a LinkedIn connection request

By Jeff Molander

how to write linkedin connection request

Time to read: 3.5 minutes. Figuring out how to write LinkedIn connection request—that gets the other side TALKING with me—was tough. But I finally cracked the nut. You can too. Here is a simple, effective approach. I’ll share the technique and a template that get contacts TALKING—right after you connect.

Let’s say you’re attending conferences, coming back to the office and asking prospects to connect via LinkedIn. Excellent. Maybe you’re getting connections—but are you getting anyone to talk with you AFTER the connection is made?

If you’re like most people, you’re not. But here’s the mistake I was making over-and-over-and-over. 

I was talking too much about myself and my needs. Seems obvious. But here’s the worst part.

I was making an effort to NOT make this mistake!

Even worse, I was also failing to give the other side a compelling reason to immediately start talking (after connecting).

Are you making this mistake? (probably!)

NEVER send a connection request to a prospect you don’t know. It’s against LinkedIn’s terms & conditions. If your connection requests are not accepted by prospects often enough LinkedIn will remove your ability to make connection requests. Your account will be restricted. Ouch.

Many sellers don’t know this—until it’s too late.

Sellers should not use connection requests as a “first touch.”

It is best to initiate contact off of LinkedIn first—then connect on LinkedIn to nurture the conversation forward. It’s not difficult and here are my best email templates to help.

This takes advantage of what connections give you. (and avoids risk of being punished by LinkedIn for violating rules)

Here’s the skinny version. Being connected with prospects on LinkedIn is:

  • less effective for earning meetings or starting relationships
  • more effective at nurturing conversations toward closure.

Connections suck as conversation-starters

Connection requests suck. They’re just un-necessary and risky.

When I first meet students they always report how they:

  • Request connection w/ a personalized message
  • Earn connection
  • Fail to start the conversation

Why? Because connection requests are often never seen when personalized. LinkedIn increasingly encourages users to avoid reading the connection request via its user interface.

Also, over time, more-and-more customers become victims of connecting to a seller–and immediately being spammed with a poorly-written pitch. Over time, connection requests are being accepted less-and-less by buyers. Sellers are training them “spam ahead” if they connect.

Yes, requesting a connection seems like a logical first step but it’s blind, cold. It’s also against LinkedIn’s terms & conditions–and punishable. Most of all it’s in-effective.

Instead, there is an easily-learned communications technique my students practice.

A failing example

Many of my students use the below connection request message … and fail miserably.

Hi, Juile,
Nice meeting you at _______ [conference]. If it’s ok, I’d like to invite you to become a member of my professional network of prospective buyers on LinkedIn—made up of high-level executives worldwide. Check them out. I don’t sell to them, but they do buy from me. It’s up to you.


Let’s diagnose why this isn’t working. Then, I’ll demonstrate an approach that fixes the problem and provokes response.

“Nice meeting you at the conference,” is an effective way to set context. But asking someone to become a member of your professional network:

  • is not distinct enough—it is one of countless other requests
  • is not clearly beneficial to the recipient—not compelling

Ok. Let’s fix this message up by applying the rules …

What you should do instead

Get invited to a conversation with your prospect first. Confirm your target is a viable near-term or future buyer.

Then connect.

No, you don’t need to use InMail. This isn’t a commercial for InMail. I don’t care if you use InMail or not. All I care about is getting appointments. The fastest way to get response is creating an urge in the prospect to talk.

If you don’t create that urge you won’t be invited to talk. Pretty simple.

Getting more response and appointments will start happening. But only when you start helping prospects feel curious about how you can help them … how you can solve a problem, relieve a pain, avoid a risk or fast-track a goal for them.

LinkedIn connection request ‘must haves’

So here’s what I did to fix it. If you are going to make a connection request to a prospect or customer you’re actively speaking with, make sure your message:

  1. Removes all focus on you—big time! (I mean ALL)
  2. States a benefit to connecting—that they cannot resist!

I know these sound obvious. Hang in there with me. Focusing like a laser on these ‘rules’ makes the other side more interested in talking—after you’ve connected.

#1 Remove all focus on you

It sounds obvious. But are you doing it—and doing it dramatically? If you’re like most folks using LinkedIn, you’re letting what you need (leads) get in the way of what your prospect needs to act on (a problem or goal).

And you don’t even know it. I was too.

The solution: Put what your buyers want to hear up front in the first sentence. Clobber them with it. Prove to them you’ve done homework on them—you are not just spamming them with templated messages.

Also, Charles is using descriptors like “high-level” and “worldwide.” He’s positioning. He’s talking about HIMSELF in grandiose terms.

This is not important to the prospect. Period.

Thus, remove all adjectives and adverbs that describe you. I mean it, ALL of them. If you do, you’ll sound bold and create an attraction.

Keep the focus on the other side.

#2 Prove you are not a cut-and-paste spammer

This is THE most valuable “first-touch” message tip I can give you. This is what is working lately… to grab attention and avoid deletion. More than anything else, do your homework.

Within your email, right away (top line) prove you’ve done homework on each prospect you contact. Lately, your message must scream personalized. Otherwise? Your email message is instantly seen as a mass mailed template.

Set the bar high. You want the prospect to TALK with you. That means they must see you as relevant to a pain or goal in their life. This is how to write a LinkedIn connection request that works!

The trick is helping the prospect find you irresistible. This way they’ll take action—start talking to you now.

In my example with Charles, he uses an occasional newsletter to nurture leads… after he meets and connects. He sends his newsletter to LinkedIn contacts tagged as “long-term leads.” These are buyers who are qualified to buy, but have not yet identified themselves as needy.

A template for you

Charles’ newsletter is sparking discussions—helping him nurture and identify buyers. People are reading the newsletter and hitting reply, reacting to what he says. His newsletter is working for him.

With this in mind, we can improve Charles’ success rate when approaching conference leads to join his email newsletter list.

For example:

Hi, Julie. Nice meeting you at _______ (conference). Connecting on LinkedIn will benefit both of us. For example, I send out a newsletter to a privileged group of colleagues on occasion. It provides useful tips to my most valuable relationships … in a way that often sparks reactions. This keeps us in touch … so we increase chances of helping each other whenever possible. What do you think?

Thanks for considering.


Notice how confident and useful Charles sounds, right up-front. He sounds certain: this is a good idea. Plus he states why by focusing on what the other side wants—useful tips that creates benefits.

Also notice the use of the word privileged and how it implies exclusive benefit to the prospect.

★ See more examples: Attend a LinkedIn InMail Clinic. Start applying this technique yourself.

Bottom line: If Charles has an asset (a newsletter that sparks reactions with potential buyers) he should exploit it. Also, instead of positioning his LinkedIn network as being valuable (sounding like 98% of LinkedIn users) he positions what his prospects want as what he has for them.

All his future buyer need do is act.

Your turn

Knowing how to write a better LinkedIn connection request is simple. Knowing how to write one that sparks conversation takes a little more work. But now you have a template to help.

Also, does what you sell solve a problem? Can it give customers a life-altering experience or bring them closer to reaching a goal?

When writing LinkedIn connection requests, let them know you’ve got a free sample of what you sell waiting for them.

All they need to do (to get it) is respond.

Politely tease them a little. Dangle a carrot. When you’re writing the goal is to help them think, “I wonder what, exactly, he/she means by that?”

In the end, it’s easy to end up feeling like a zombie—dumping contacts into LinkedIn, hoping prospects will connect. After that? This is where the strategy tends to fall apart.

Don’t let it happen to you. Good luck!

Photo credit: Remon Rijper.


About the Author

Jeff Molander is the authority on starting sales conversations online. He teaches a proven, effective and repeatable communications process to spark buyers curiosity about what you’re selling. He’s a sought-after sales prospecting trainer to individual reps, teams of sellers and small businesses owners across the globe. He’s an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded the Google Affiliate Network and what is today the Performics division of Publicis Groupe.

Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with technology platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.

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