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How to get LinkedIn prospecting messages right

Category: Blog & News

Like you, I get a lot of LinkedIn requests. What surprises me is how many first messages are blatant sales pitches – and bad ones at that. If you use LinkedIn for prospecting, here are some tips on how to get it right so an annoyed new connection doesn’t block you.


Your first message makes or breaks the relationship. It’s a good idea to send your new connection a note within a couple of days, but not within minutes (unless it is merely to say “thanks for the connection”). Why? A fast reply can signal either desperation on your part or that they are just another cog in the request factory. There is an exception to this, which I’ll get to in a second.

In this first exchange, hold off on any action that requires a commitment of time or money on their behalf (e.g. a phone call, make a booking, buy now). You haven’t earned it yet; ensure you give before you get. A no obligation gift (e.g. trial, free resource, idea) is a better bet.

Here’s an example of a Lead Generation firm asking me for a phone call. I’m guessing they get a very poor response rate to their request.

LinkedIn prospecting example 1

About you not them

This is where most prospecting messages go wrong - they are all about you rather than them.  Here’s the hot tip. Most people like to hear about themselves, and will only be curious about you if you are curious about them first.

That’s the exception to the timing rule, by the way. You can send them a message soon after the connection, but only if it articulates why you found their profile or business intriguing. It cannot be generic garbage either, it has to sound sincere and like you couldn’t wait to find out more about them.

Example 2 from a broker shows us what not to do in this regard.  

LinkedIn prospecting example 2

Length and readability

Keep your message succinct and use paragraphs to make it easy to read. Our final example is from an SEO agency owner who starts quite well but then rambles too much about themselves. Poor formatting only adds to the perception that they may be chaotic.

LinkedIn prospecting example 3

How to get it right

Start with their name, thank them for their connection, express an interest in their business or profile (“I noticed you…”, “I saw on your website…”) and/or offer an insight into some aspect of their industry (“I’ve noticed there’s a gap in how most businesses…”), and finally ask for their grace to accept your offer of a gift (“I hope you don’t mind”, “something I thought you’d be interested in”).  Keep it light and curious. Remember, if you are curious about them, they’ll be curious about you.

This article also appeared in Smartcompany.

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