How to write LinkedIn connection request

by Jeff Molander, Conversation Enablement Coach, Speaker & Founder at Communications Edge Inc.

Time to read: 3.5 minutes. Figuring out how to write a LinkedIn connection request—that gets the other side talking—is tough. But our students figured out an innovative way.

I’ll share the technique and a template to get contacts talking after you connect. Because even if you’re getting connections accepted you may have trouble getting conversations started post-connection. 

Here’s the mistake most of our customers are making. Talking too much about:

  • themselves
  • their needs (to converse with the prospect)
  • free promotions, demos or offers

Sellers are also inadvertently signaling, “I’m out to pitch you after connecting” to prospects.

But here’s the surprising trend we’re discovering…

Connections suck as conversation-starters

What? Yes.

Connection requests are becoming less effective… as a first point of contact. Hear me out. You can skip down to “Re-think your connection request” but you should consider this trend.

Our students (sellers) report this pattern:

  • Request connection with a personalized message
  • Earn connection
  • Fail to start conversations

This happens because customers are:

  • Accepting connection requests (without seeing the message)
  • Immediately being spammed by sellers
  • Accepting fewer connection requests overall

After connection prospects go silent on sellers. We hear this increasingly.

Here’s why: Personalized connection requests are often never seen. LinkedIn increasingly encourages users to avoid reading connection requests. Thus, you see acceptance of the connection as a positive sign. The customer does not (since they never saw the message content).

Bottom line: Customers are becoming victims of connecting to sellers–and immediately being spammed with poorly-written pitches.

Sellers are literally training customers to expect spammy messages if they connect.

Requesting a connection seems like a logical first step but it’s increasingly ineffective.

One problem is templates. They’re poisonous!

Don’t use templates

Most sellers use a template connection request message—and fail.

Connection templates do not work. Because:

  • they are not distinct enough—you don’t stand out
  • they are seen as spam
  • prospects increasingly receive requests saying “I’ve read your profile” from sellers who have not

Fact is, most connection requests come from sellers who have done little if any homework on the customer.

Prospects are catching on!

Here is a quick example of a common yet failing template request:

connection request sales

Never try to “hook” customers with a question.

In the image above notice how Carrie asks me a question—biased to the answer she wants. “Would you like to grow your business through speaking this year?” She’s asking a question serving her (only)… in a way that is obvious (and dangerous) to me.

Her question makes it dangerous for me to accept her request. I become vulnerable to her sales pitch if I do.

Asking me this question may seem clever. But it is not clever at all. It signals “answer yes (as I hope for) and I’ll pounce on you with my offer.”

Instead, an unbiased question helps prospects consider their situation… draws them into a conversation. For example… what if Carrie asks me, “What would cause you to look outside of traditional ways to drum-up speaking gigs, Jeff?” or “Are you open to considering an unusual way to create more speaking gig this year?”

Starting conversations with customers takes practice. You might consider joining our free Academy where we learn to start discussions using better messages.

Rethink your connection request

Make sure your connection request avoids:

  1. Focusing on you (remove references to yourself… all of them!)
  2. “Hook” questions (making your prospect feel vulnerable to a pitch)
  3. Language indicating you read their profile (this is trending spammy)
  4. Borrowing from template you found via Google or a “guru!”

Make sure your connection request DOES:

  1. Prove you’ve done research on the prospect (without pretending you did!)
  2. Use an unbiased question helping you stand out from the crowd
  3. Spark curiosity in the prospect via a provocation

Better yet, I can show you a communications technique our students practice in a free online Academy community. Join us!

Otherwise, these guidelines help readers develop interest in talking—after you’ve connected. Or from cold… in a cold email.

Want to see more examples? Attend a LinkedIn InMail Clinic. Start applying this technique yourself.

If you’re a financial advisor good news. We have specific insight on the best LinkedIn messages for financial advisors.

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 guide to help. Consider it a template of sorts.

Consider connecting later

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

Then connect.

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.

Call. Use standard email. Oh, and don’t over-rely on InMail (it’s not a “magic email” system!).

It is best to initiate contact off of LinkedIn first—then connect on LinkedIn to nurture the conversation forward.

It’s not difficult. You can access our private community’s best, conversation-starting email templates here.  

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.

In 1999, I co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc. where I helped secure 2 rounds of funding and built the sales team. I've been selling for over 2 decades.

After this stint, I returned to what was then Molander & Associates Inc. In recent years we re-branded to Communications Edge Inc., a member-driven laboratory of sorts. We study, invent and test better ways to communicate -- specializing in serving sales and marketing professionals.

I'm a coach and creator of the Spark Selling™ communication methodology—a curiosity-driven way to start and advance conversations. When I'm not working you'll find me hiking, fishing, gardening and investing time in my family.

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  • Jeff:

    I agree, it seems odd to 1st ask a Prospect to connect using LinkedIn, then, in the same breath, send her/him a email message (addressed to his/her business address) expounding the virtue of whatever you make a livelihood with.
    On the other hand, Jeff, If I’m not mistaken, you proposition is to 1st connect via phone or standard email or other means, THEN connect through LinkedIn to nurture etc

    Jeff, this is where I’m (easily) confused: once I have manged to get i touch with a Prospect by phone ( a nearly impossible task) or by a clever email message ( possible) why should I need to connect via LinkedIn?

    Please unconfuse me

    Thank you


    • Hi, Pierre. LinkedIn changes nothing. There has been no social media revolution. Only a chance at evolution. You are absolutely correct in every ounce of your logic … and instincts. You do NOT need LinkedIn at all. This is where the LinkedIn gurus and experts are 100% wrong. Connecting on LinkedIn once the relationship is established affords you the benefits of being connected — in a way that helps you track/monitor/help the prospect. You don’t need a connection to initiate discussion. Nor is it a logical/good first choice. Sorry for the delay in my reply.

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