Cold outreach is a part of life for most business owners. A prominent way this is currently done is through LinkedIn connection requests.
But if you’re not sure how to go about it, you may feel uneasy connecting with others on LinkedIn.
With that in mind, here are a few tips for small business owners to consider when connecting with potential contacts.
Note: These tips are meant for when you want to connect with people you don’t know.
Send a message with your request
If you haven’t met this person in real life, or you don’t think they’d remember you, don’t just send a connection request without any context. There are close to 800 million LinkedIn users. If they don’t know you from Adam, how can they know you’re not a spammer, stalker, or scammer?
State why you want to connect with this person
Context can help someone feel more comfortable accepting your connection request.
In your request, you could include something like, “I love connecting with small business owners like yourself,” or “I saw we have some mutual connections, so I wanted to add you to my network.”
Don’t act as though you planned to connect
Here’s a line I’ve had more than one person use on me: “Looking forward to connecting!”
The problem with this is that it sounds like I’ve met this person before, we discussed connecting, and now they’re following up.
But in all instances I’ve received this, I never met the person. This made them come across as presumptive and a little manipulative.
Be transparent in the fact that you’ve never met
Here’s a better message to include in a request:
“We’ve never met before, but I’m a small business owner who enjoys connecting with other small business owners. I regularly post on topics relevant to the small business world that I think you’ll find useful. If you’d be up for chatting sometime to see if there’s any way we could help each other in our respective businesses, feel free to connect with me and reach out when you’re ready. Have a great day!”
I know, it’s a bit long. But I think a longer message in this case is a good thing. It gives you ample room to discuss who you are, why the person should follow you, and that you’d love to chat with them, but only if they’re up for it.
It’s true that not every stranger will connect with you, no matter what message you attach with your invitation. But there are ways to avoid coming across as another pushy salesperson and there are ways to be transparent when sending your invitation.