When someone sends you an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, you are in a uniquely advantageous position. You are actually doing them a favor by accepting their invitation. You get to send them a message thanking them for reaching out to you. You are also able to tell them about yourself and what you do – without it being a cold sales pitch – because they reached out to you.
So if we agree that inbound LinkedIn connection invitations are valuable, the question becomes: How do we turn the inbound connection invitation into a lead?
First, you need to decide for yourself whether the connection represents a good prospect or not based on your criteria. If they aren’t, consider connecting anyway because every additional 1st level connection represents approximately 1,000 new 2nd level connections, so it is a great way to expand your network.
Next, peruse their profile and weave something of interest to them into a personalized response. Keep your response on the short side and not too salesy, but be sure to include a few things:
- Thank them for reaching out to you (reinforcing that they sent you the invitation)
- Acknowledge that you have some of the same connections in common (reinforcing that you are not a complete stranger but rather someone they should get to know)
- Offer the assumption that they have at least skimmed your profile and are connecting for a particular reason and not just spamming you (“I’m assuming you got a look at my profile and know what I do.”)
- Offer to make introductions into your network that may be valuable to them (lead with value), and
- Briefly recap what you do and let them know that if you can be of service to them in your professional capacity, you are more than happy to do it.
Here is an example of what an appropriate email may look like. You should personalize your email to you.
Thank you for reaching out. I’m happy to have you in my professional network. It looks like we may be acquainted with some of the same people. [I see that… insert interesting factoid here]. I’m guessing you at least skimmed my profile and know what I do. If I can be of any service to you as far as helping you make any additional connections or to you or anyone you know in my capacity as a [insert Title or Job Description here], please let me know. I am happy to do it.
PRO TIP: Send your personalized response through LinkedIn AND via email from your business account. This reinforces your willingness to foster a relationship with them, and gives them your work email as well as all the additional contact information most of us put in our signature lines (LinkedIn profile, url, mobile number, skype, twitter, etc.).
By following the above steps, you can turn inbound LinkedIn connection invitations into warm leads and begin to make your LinkedIn network work for you.
If you want to take the next step in optimizing your profile for LinkedIn, please read Prime Real Estate: Your LinkedIn Headline.