Cultivating Your LinkedIn Connections For Fun and Profit


Actually, just for profit. But that’s fun too. 

A couple months ago I wrote about how you can identify the connections that are worth improving your relationship with. These are the ones that may become prospects or suppliers or other types of people that can help you down the line. The morning that I published that, I got this note from one of the subscribers:

“You left everyone hanging! Now that they have identified those “special” connections, what do they do with them? How do they segregate them? How do they make sure that their content or comments or postings go to them??”

So in answer to that question, here are four steps you can take:

1) Get them in your CRM

And yes, you should actually have a CRM tool of one kind or another. The key here is the “M” because you want to manage your relationship with them. And that means tracking what you have been doing. At its most basic, all you want to be able to do is to identify people you are working to promote your relationship with. While there may be overlap with other work you are doing, your goals with these people should be pure relationship building.

2) Figure out how often you want to reach out to them

Frequency will be a function of several things, but in particular how big your “ask” is. For example, there is a big difference between making your case and asking for a phone call now, or asking for a phone call after you have interacted four or five times with them and built your credibility more slowly. The other big factor is just the raw number of people you are enrolling in this little program at any one time. You may have fifty people you want to work to develop your relationships with and it will make a big difference if you are doing, say ten at a time, or all fifty.

3) Figure out what you want to offer to help them

There are more things you can offer your connections than you are probably aware of. How about a phone call to see what types of people they would like to meet so you can see if any of your connections would be a good fit for them? Can you endorse them on LinkedIn? How about a recommendation? Can you write a testimonial for them? Do you have a case study on that new technology their company is getting involved in. Send them a copy. How about blogs or podcasts they might be interested in? Offer to send them the links.

Now I don’t do all these at once, as that can be a little overwhelming and to be honest would be just a little bit weird. What I do is have two of them ready, usually one “thing” like a white paper, and one “service” like an offer of a LinkedIn recommendation. Then I add another one each time I reach out to them.

The overriding theme here is “I am a resource and I want to help you achieve your goals.”

4) Set aside time to contact the people at the top of the list each week.

Three suggestions on starting this up: start slow, make it a priority and do it. Start slow because you want to take the time to do it correctly. Make it a priority, don’t kind of say to yourself, I will fit this in if I get some extra time at the end of the day. And do it: get it done. Make it a habit, a part of your day, and of your week.

This isn’t that difficult and it works. The hard part is starting. Start, keep at it and you will make it part of your LinkedIn habits.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.

Want more like this? I publish three weekly email newsletters on LinkedIn for Sales, LinkedIn for Marketing and Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics. Each is typically a two or three minute read, free, and and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page:


Should You Include A Note With your Connection Invitation On LinkedIn?

(they might be a bit more welcoming if you has sent a note…)


The answer is yes and I have some data back it up.

I had read someone on LinkedIn a ways back saying it wasn’t necessary to include a message and he was just as successful sending “naked” invites as with ones with a personalized message.

I of course thought he was wrong, but that got me thinking: has anyone researched this? And even if we all “know” that including a note helps, just how much better is it to include a note? Ten percent? Fifty percent?

So I decided to test the idea myself.

I wanted an honest test, so I put together a LinkedIn search. I chose operations people because sales and marketing people might be unduly disposed to accepting an invite from someone like me. The first week I sent connection invites to the first ten people on my search results list with no message, and then I sent connection invites to the next ten people with a personalized message. I repeated this for the next four weeks until I had sent fifty invitations to connect with a message and fifty without one.

Here were my results:

Invite to connect, no note: 18 out of 50 accepted

Invite to connect, personalized note: 39 of 50 accepted

So the first part of my findings is as follows: “People are more than twice as likely to accept an invitation to connect when you include a note.”

This brings up the question of what you should put in your personalized note.

I receive a lot of invites with notes that say something like “I am trying to build my network and would love to connect with you.” Note how this is completely impersonal. It could be sent to anyone. And this invitation revolves around what’s in it for the inviter – “building my network” – and not about the invitee.

In the note you send along with your invitation, you are in effect, giving the other person the reason(s) they should connect with you. What people are told to include are things like:

* shared experiences, such as previous employers or schools you both went to

* shared connections

* shared interests

To my thinking, these are tepid. It seems to me they translate to “there is less risk in connecting with me due to whatever it is we share.”

Instead, the two reasons I advocate are:

* what you can offer (expertise, experience)

* your genuine interest in their experience and expertise

And by a mile, “what you can offer” is the best option. That’s because it answers the “what’s in it for me” questions. The other reasons really don’t. When I write an invite, I add what’s in it for them. I always add that if they have any questions on using LinkedIn they can send them to me and I will answer them if I can. This is something anyone can say about their area of expertise. This makes you a valuable resource in case the other person needs it, and that gives them a compelling reason to connect with you that is in their best interests.

But that’s not all. I also hyperpersonlize my note to get their attention and to show that this invitation is not cut and paste or automated. For example, I may send a note to an invitee I share four connections with. In that note I will mention something specific about one of those people to show I have a real relationship with them, I actually know them, and that this note was written expressly for this invitee.

So let’s amend my original results as follows:

“People are more than twice as likely to accept an invitation to connect when you include a note that has been specifically personalized to them, and tells them what’s in it for them.”

FAQ: Managing Invitations to Connect on LinkedIn 

And a carefully written note with your invitation can go a long way…


If the other person does not answer or accept, can I withdraw my invitation to connect?

Yes. And perhaps oddly, LinkedIn will allow you to send that person another invitation after three weeks have gone by. 

To manage sent invitations, click on the “My Network” tab and choose “manage” at the top right. 


Why am I being asked to provide the person’s email address that I want to invite to connect?

It is possible that the other person has set their account to only receive invitations from people who know their email address. I have never seen anyone do this. 

The more likely scenario (cue ominous music) is that you are in LinkedIn jail. This happens when you have been ignored or rejected by a large percentage of the people you have invited to connect. LinkedIn (or at least LinkedIn’s algorithms) think you are pushing your luck as to who you are inviting to connect. 


Do connection requests expire? 

I haven’t heard of this. In theory your connection request can sit for years, waiting for the other person to see it. In theory this kind of makes sense: a lot of users only come around every few months, so having your request expire too quickly doesn’t help you or that other person. 


Should I delete invites that don’t get a response? 

I do. I usually delete invites once I figure someone should have seen it and responded by now. For someone who uses LinkedIn every day, I will give them three or four days. As I am not interested in connecting with occasional users, I don’t let any invites hang around for more than two weeks. 


Should I send a personalized note with my invitation?

People are on both sides of the fence on whether one is really needed. I think it depends on the situation. If I know the person, or they are a logical person to accept – they work at a client company for example – no note is needed. However if they come in out of the blue, I want to know the context as to why they want to connect. 

It never hurts to add a note that gives context to why you sent the invitation. It all comes back to the “what’s in it for the other person” idea. We want to give them a reason to say “yes”.

With thanks to one of my Connections, Wayne Yoshida, who had the idea for this post and several of the questions.