Remember when adding strangers on LinkedIn was frowned upon? If we flashback to just a couple of years ago, LinkedIn required you to disclose why you are adding someone on LinkedIn. Today, with LinkedIn Sales Navigator becoming the standard way sales development representatives and other salespeople research their prospects, LinkedIn doesn’t ask you how you know a connection when you make a request.

Since the culture on LinkedIn has changed significantly over the past couple of years, I thought it’d be a good idea today to give some updated tips on how to get someone to accept your connection request on LinkedIn.

Prospect using LeadIQ on LinkedIn

5 Tips to Get Prospects to Accept Your LinkedIn Requests

  1. Always include a personal note.
  2. Personalize your personal note.
  3. Don’t pitch in your connection request.
  4. Combo your connection requests with another channel.
  5. Make your connection requests human and entertaining.

Sample invite to Johnnie LinkedIn used to ask how you knew a connection before sending a requests.

Always Include a Personal Note

This one is obvious, so I’m not going to go too deep into it here since most of this post references this. Let’s just say it like this; if you aren’t adding a personal note to your connection request, you are either being lazy or ignorant of this amazing feature. For the sake of this tip, let’s look at the LinkedIn connection requests I received over the weekend that I don’t plan on adding to my network.

This is what your prospects are seeing:

Linkedin Invitations

If you take a look at the connection requests I received, tons have no personal message. One person left the default LinkedIn personal note in there, wasting the real estate to make a solid first impression with me.

If you don’t have a personal note in there, the only things someone will judge you on are your title, headshot, and company. With no personal message and a sales-related title, it might as well be a death sentence for your connection request. Notice how much the generic message above pops? Put in a nice little customized message there, and you’ll pop too!

How Do You Personalize a Note with Your LinkedIn Connection Request?

This GIF will show you how easy it is. Check it out:


If you are using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, the personal message option is included right in the connection request pop up.

One quick warning: If you add a connection from the “People You May Know” area on LinkedIn via your mobile device, you won’t get the opportunity to add a personalized note. So be careful on their mobile app. I assume LinkedIn will fix this soon.

Personalize Your Personal Note

Depending on what version of LinkedIn you are running, there is a reason LinkedIn calls it a “personal note” or “personal message.” Now that we told you to use this feature let’s talk about the core part; personalizing it.

There are all kinds of ways that you can personalize a LinkedIn message. Do you have a trigger that made you reach out? Don’t be afraid to remove the fourth wall, and tell them how you discovered them. Maybe you saw they commented on a particular post of someone you know or shared a mutual connection’s post. Did they do something different or unique that is in the public eye? Prospecting your LinkedIn connections is definitely not easy. 

I recorded and posted a video on triggers a few months back. These triggers can also apply to your LinkedIn connections: The trigger and your message need to be customized and mostly about your prospect. If you do this, you’ll get more accepts.

I don’t recommend asking for a meeting in the connection request. Your goal with connection request is to get accepted, not to book a meeting. Which brings us to our next tip. 

If you want to see your prospect’s recent activities and posts:


Don’t Pitch in Your Connection Request

Over the weekend, I got this personal note with a connection request:

Connection request pitch

This message (this person does not work at Hubspot, FYI) started great with the personalization about technology, but it turned into a boilerplate pitch.

When sending connection request notes, you want to make your message about your prospect. I don’t care that this company is aggressively building its portfolio of companies. That’s like telling me, “Hey, we really want your money.” Instead, he could have mentioned something about the content I put up, my videos, or just that he wanted to personally get to know someone at LeadIQ because he thinks we’re doing some cool stuff to help prospectors.

The other thing about this message is that it talked about cutting a deal. I’ve accidentally done this before, but never want to lead with price. Mentioning the deal upfront creates a tendency for prospects to think about their budget when no value has been presented yet. Don't pitch in your message. You always want to wait for pricing discussions until you’ve shown some value. If your company’s competitive advantage is pricing, you need to show the value before bringing it up.
Either way, from a first impression standpoint, the message needs to focus on your prospect.

Combo Your Connection Requests with Another Channel

I get lots of cold calls on my cell every day. I subscribe to the concept that you should leave a voicemail, especially now that I’m on the buyer side. I don’t answer phone numbers if I don’t recognize them. Leaving a voicemail helps me put a name to the number.

With that being said, one of my favorite ways to use connection requests is as one touchpoint while syncing it to another. Check out this excellent use of the one-two punch combo from talented Business Development guy at Blue Ridge Development, Alan Wetzel. Alan added me on LinkedIn with a personalized message on Sunday mentioning he was going to call me. He didn’t pitch me on the LinkedIn connection. He mentioned that he had seen my profile come up a lot. After adding me, he left this voicemail on Monday:


He immediately followed it with this InMail message:

Alan's direct message

Alan got a reply from me. Stacking more than one channel is the right way to use LinkedIn. If you are planning on doing an activity, tell the prospect what’s coming. Using LinkedIn when prospecting with another channel s a great way to get their attention. One other thing I enjoyed about Alan’s voicemail is he entertained me by talking about my picture. You can bring something as simple as that to brighten someone’s day. 

Make Your Connection Requests Human and Entertaining

People want to have fun. No matter where you work, we all want to escape for a couple of minutes. If you don’t work in sales, you may be checking out LinkedIn to escape the grind of your job for a couple of minutes. Find some way to have fun with your prospects on your connection requests.

Entertaining your prospect could be the missing key to getting reasonable response rates on connection requests. Don't be afraid to use humor in your prospecting. I remember one of our SDRs once noticed that a prospect took their headshot in front of a beautiful fountain. When he said it, though, the water in the background made the prospect almost look like they were white water rafting. The SDR told the prospect in the connection request that they must be the calmest white water rafter ever, and he ended up booking the meeting. The prospect had a good laugh, and the rest was history.


If you follow these tips, you should see an increase in your replies and opportunities. Just remember, not every industry frequently checks LinkedIn, so don’t be too aggressive on there if your prospects don’t check their account too often. Look at their activity history and see how often they participate online to get a feel for it.

Posted by Ryan O'Hara
Ryan O'Hara
Ryan O'Hara has been an early employee at several startups helping them with marketing and prospecting tactics, including Dyn who was acquired by Oracle for $600+ million in 2016. He's had prospecting campaigns featured in Fortune, Mashable, and TheNextWeb. Ryan specializes in branding, business development, prospecting, and coaching people on how to make good digital first impressions. He also mentors two accelerators, The Iron Yard and The Alpha Loft, and hosts The Prospecting

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