The Best LinkedIn Connect Message

Should I get a foot in the door? Rely on second-connections? Perhaps I should go soft. Maybe if I just invite without a message at all, I’d gather more leads in my net. Really, just what is the best LinkedIn connect message?

The answer depends on your goals. We’ll cover the myriad possibilities below, discussing the tradeoffs with each approach.

Connect Message Template

Want to use a template? Think again.

Imagine getting a message that seems suspiciously similar prior messages you’ve seen, all from strangers. It’s not going to look like an opportunity, even if it is.

What I can offer you is much better than a template. We’re going to reason through all of your options, with the perspective of a marketing professional who has run hundreds of organic LinkedIn campaigns. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what to write and the effect messaging will have on your prospects.

Is English not your first language? Hire a native English speaker to help write your message, maybe $5 on Upwork. Working with a template may seem appealing, but modifying the template is more likely to introduce grammar issues than writing it from scratch with a native speaker. This point should not be neglected if you’re not confident of your grasp of your prospects’ primary language.

Connection Message Basics

First, let’s discuss the connection message itself.

Length

It’s very short. At only 295 characters, you’re not including your biography. This is for the best because it removes the most significant temptation: exhausting the target’s attention with a dissertation. You’re going to need to compress your core message.

LinkedIn’s UI

These messages are viewed in LinkedIn’s chat window only after an invite is accepted. The primary view is the extremely compressed:

If the invite is accepted, these invitation messages get promoted to normal LinkedIn messages and enjoy all of the additional real estate that comes with it.

This means we need to hook the prospect with the very first line and shoot for invite acceptance. Fortunately, this bar is rather low since most people impulsively accept LinkedIn connection requests.

The limited space that invite connections are displayed in also the reason we use a more complete follow-up message and the endorsement tactic, both of which draw the prospect’s attention back to the messages without being desperate or overbearing.

Messaging

Whether this is a B2B sale, a job-seeking proposition, or even the simplest goal of expanding your connections metric, you’re going to want to provide value proposition right in this first message.

There are several reasons for being so direct. First off, why are you contacting this person? That’s the foremost question on the prospect’s mind, running through their head from the first word of your introduction that they read. Being straightforward draws attention to a mutually beneficial exchange, a mindset that is necessarily fostered in business and incidentally common on LinkedIn. Being honest and concise is the difference between being considered a shameless advertiser and extending a valuable opportunity.

Secondly, this filters your burgeoning network. You only want to connect (and retarget) individuals that meet your qualifications, including the seeds of interest which will result in them doing business with you. This is ultimately self-selection done by prospects reading your succinct value-prop.

Basic Example

In the most basic analysis, the connection message should include the simple formalities of meeting someone and a very brief value proposition. Here’s that quintessence, distilled for growing your network:

Hello {first name},

I’m Jeremy, an influencer in the digital marketing space.

Let’s connect and grow our networks!

~Jeremy

Voice and Tone

How should we conduct ourselves on LinkedIn? What is the best way to persuade and connect with genuine people on this channel? We’re going to cover some common psychological features of any successful LinkedIn connection message.

Avoid Impersonal Formality

Hello Sir/Madame,

ABC Widgets invites you to peruse our recently updated catalog. You may discover many valuable offerings to enhance your business.

Should you require further assistance, please contact our team.

Thank you,
ABC Widgets

What’s wrong with the above message? It is so impersonal that it oozes “advertisement”. There’s nothing wrong with advertising, of course, but LinkedGuerilla can specifically tap into the very human blueprint of relatability and reciprocity. The best possible LinkedIn connection message must use these factors.

Relatability

Relatability is accomplished by conveying that you’re a real person at the other end of the wires. This is done by revealing personal details, communicating informally (as if the other person were face-to-face with you), and being authentic.

Using your name is a simple personal detail that should always be included. If we were to approach the introduction with conventional letter-writing conventions, we’d like want to start by introducing ourselves by first name (informal) and then concluding with a “sign-off” statement like “Thanks,” plus our first name.

Want to share more? Great, but keep it professional and contextual. Remember, we’re only working with 295 characters. Any other details in the connect message are likely to be limited to one or two work history highlights or a common connection.

Communicating informally sets the tone as personable. This is best done, for the sake of concision, by using idioms. Idioms are cultural vanguards, separating those who are native or regional speakers from the rest of the word. Naturally, this must be well-executed to be useful, but an idiom can convey relatability without sacrificing professionalism. Puns and analogies can serve the same purpose.

Being authentic in 295 characters is a matter of being upfront. In general, this means using a clear value proposition for the connection, even if it is not the final hard sell. For example, if I offer B2B credit services but only 0.1% of businesses want my service at any given time, I’ll broaden the value proposition for the sake of re-marketing after we’re connected.

Let’s blend all of these relatability elements together and use the aforementioned business model as an example:

Hi {first name},

I’m Jeremy of Capitaline Credit. I make sure you can grow right when you need it.

I don’t know if you need money now, but why not keep me in your network as a direct line to capital?

Thanks,
Jeremy

Reciprocity

The basis of trust is a history of exchanges. Whether the trade is asking a favor or granting one, successful transactions build equity in your relationship that can be cashed out when it’s time for the big exchange.

In our case, we want to home in on the smallest possible exchange we can muster. If you ask for too much, it will fail to register; if you give too much, you appear suspicious. Instead, it’s best to find a very small favor that can be accomplished in the length of time it takes to read your introductory message.

While it’s a bit counterintuitive, it’s often considered to be better to ask a favor rather than provide one. This is known as the “Ben Franklin Effect“: You tend to like the people to whom you are kind and dislike the people to whom you are rude.

One example is to ask who the best point of contact is for your value offering. For an individual at a large office, they will know right away who would handle this kind of request and can simply write back. They’ll feel good to be helpful and you’ll have a basis by which to offer them something as recompense or even ask for further favors, such as how to pitch the decision-maker. This approach is ideal for setting appointments.

Another good favor is to ask for referrals (with the intention of having the value proposition appeal to them directly). Assuming that your targeting is well-aimed, you can proffer that “it’d be great if you knew anyone who’d benefit from my service”.

The simplest and smallest favor is to ask to connect. While most people will oblige this request, I advise against this ask since it dilutes your value proposition. Unless your goal is simply to increase your LinkedIn connections, this is going to distract prospects from your business offering.

A great option for offering a small favor is to pay homage to their work in a field in which you are credible. I might say “I can see that {your company} is putting a lot of thought into their marketing.” This implies that you have already invested some time into research on their company, inciting reciprocation. A nice follow-up is to suggest that you could augment their efforts in one way, supplement their work in a different domain.

Grammar

Please, use the first-person and active voice. While it’s tempting to write corporate-speak advertisements, you should keep in mind that a huge part of the appeal of LinkedGuerilla is that we can capitalize on the modicum of humanity present in LinkedIn messages that is absent in advertisements. This is a major part of why LinkedGuerilla has such a superior conversion rate compared to LinkedIn Ads. To preclude this personalizing aspect is to sabotage your campaign.

Is the Sale for Now or Nurturing?

There is an important spectrum between sending messages that increase your network vs those that close sales right away:

If your proposition is situational (e.g., recruiting new talent, helping with legal issues, selling relocation services, etc), you may want to emphasize the benefits of “having me in your network” for future relations. This will grow the network and it is much cheaper to retarget preexisting connections even if they’re not immediate conversions. Hopefully, your continual retargeting efforts will reach these prospects right when they find themselves in the situation that you can help them with.

If you’re confident that your demand is fairly constant, then you can shorten your sales cycle by using more aggressive messaging. More people will have negative reactions and fewer will connect, yet those who self-select as a positive response to your value proposition will be quicker to close. With this “hard sell” approach, you may want to be as direct as “call me to set up an appointment“.

Gaining a connection that is not likely to convert quickly can close the window of opportunity that LinkedGuerilla focuses on, namely the trifecta of invitations, follow-up, and endorsements. A strong case could be argued for making a more aggressive connection message to capture only the hottest prospects meeting the appropriate pre-qualifying conditions, then targeting the same failed invitees again using the more powerful LinkedGuerilla approach.

There are a few more reasons why you may want to emphasize sales now or in the future.

Do you like using LinkedIn? The list we build using LinkedGuerilla is in LinkedIn itself, meaning that most followup, drip-content, and future marketing will need to be done in LinkedIn itself. (There are some exceptions here when using their publicly available emails, though you should remember the CANSPAM Act and LinkedIn’s ongoing lawsuits against email scrapers.) If you enjoy using LinkedIn, perhaps nurturing prospects could increase your close rate. On the other hand, if you don’t want to use LinkedIn daily, it’d be better to focus on those who are more ready to buy with the standard LinkedGuerilla campaign.

To reiterate: soft messages increase connection rate but will catch some lukewarm prospects in the process. More direct propositions will result in fewer connections but hotter prospects. In any case, you’ll want some form of value proposition, lest the prospect not understand why you’re connecting. The best LinkedIn connect message for you will depend upon your goals for the campaign.

Contact Info

How much contact info is appropriate for a LinkedIn message? What kind of contact info should we include? Should we use a landing page or a phone number? What the best LinkedIn connection message’s contact method?

How do you process leads now? If you’re planning for high-volume and there’s a simple sale (e.g., a one-size-fits-all product or service), a landing page should suffice. If you offer bespoke B2B solutions with long negotiation periods, you’ll need to connect them to a sales rep.

In general, shorten the number of steps as much as possible. If someone is willing to call from a LinkedGuerilla campaign they expect to reach you personally and to do business. (They are not going to be wasting your time or sending robocalls since your number will only be revealed through private messages to your targeted prospects.) If the phone call is a good way to close business, avoid subjecting the prospect to the additional step of a landing page unless it adds real value or provides an essential understanding that is prerequisite to the call.

What about email? Well, email is not much different than using LinkedIn messenger (where the prospect is reading the message) except for the 10 additional clicks and minutes it will take to reach you. For these reasons email is fairly moot for these campaigns, almost always declined in favor of the messenger for LinkedGuerilla campaigns.

No contact info? Okay. LinkedIn is good enough of a tool to communicate and a large portion of targets will opt for the messenger whether you’d like them to or not. Sometimes including a landing page URL in an introductory message is interpreted as overbearing, making no additional contact info a great option. This can easily be measured with experimentation.

The best LinkedIn connect message uses a combination of your preferences mixed with your prospects’. When in doubt, simply exclude contact info (the lease aggressive tactic) and include a specific CTA in the LinkedGuerilla followup message.

Knowing Your Targets

There are two factors that will dominate all decisions regarding messaging and positioning: your targets and your business. While we’re not talking about targets here, know that targetting is a key consideration and that messaging should likely vary based on all of the following factors:

  • Seniority level (e.g., entry-level, director, CEO, etc)
  • Relationship to decision-maker (is it themselves, their superior, or their inferior)
  • Location (urban or rural?)
  • Industry
  • Years in their position/company
  • Company size (i.e., Company headcount)
  • Job title

Virtually all of these factors are available in the prospecting criteria in the Assisted and Concierge plan via Sales Navigator. Relationship to the decision-maker must be inferred.

Similarly, your value proposition is going to be slightly different to each kind of prospect, even for the same product/service. If you’re pitching a SaS accounting software to the accountants at a large corporation but not the department head, you can emphasize the benefits to its users. In follow-up messages you can spell the case for them pitching it to their superiors. If you were aiming for the heads directly, then you’d focus more on cost-savings and the possibility to reduce manpower or integrate better with other departments.

From the very beginning of your campaign you want to be staking out your prospects and positioning. While the connection message just grazes this topic with its terse character limit, it’s important to map our customer journey before you take the first step of writing the best LinkedIn connect message.

The Best LinkedIn Connect Message

The best LinkedIn connection message is based on your total campaign. We’ve covered the minutiae here, but we’re left with guides without content itself.

If you’re looking for a more hands-off approach, spend a little extra coin on the Concierge plan. It’s exactly what we advertise: a completely managed LinkedGuerilla campaign. We’ll change messaging biweekly to come to the best possible connect message, not to mention the followup message and message pacing.

Otherwise, the Assisted plan allows you to write your own messages up to two times per month; on Basic, you can run new messaging each month. Experiment and optimize for response rates, keeping in mind that there’s a certain amount of innate momentum as your account gains new connections and gains in clout.

Have other questions? Fear not, we’ll hash them all out during the consulting call. We’ll do our best to make sure you get the very best LinkedIn connect message for your first campaign.

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