Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Would you like to grow your personal brand, revenue and network? If so, making the right connections on LinkedIn is one of the clearest paths to achieving your goals.
Fortunately, LinkedIn allows you to identify and even contact these highly sought-after connections.
Unfortunately, the people who can help you the most are often bombarded with a bunch of other people asking them for something.
So how do you cut through the noise and make your voice heard? You do what others won’t: focus on making a meaningful connection as opposed to just sending a connection request.
Here are five steps to getting (almost) anyone on the platform to connect with you.
Step 1: Make a good first impression
When you send a connection request the recipient will most likely review your profile to answer the question “Why do I want to connect with this person?”
Answer that question with a headline clearing stating what you do and the associated impact.
You can see an example from Brtittany Barnhart, a brand and business development expert and founder of Powerhouse Brand Studio, below.
The way you describe yourself will differ based on who you are and what you do, but just be sure to add more than a simple job title.
Next up, your About section. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve noticed is that people only talk about themselves in this section as opposed to how they can provide value to a specific audience. I’m not saying you need to be overly humble, but you’ll want to express your background in the context of how you help people or organizations.
Again, Brittany does a great job of accomplishing this by providing mini-case studies and testimonials.
If you can check off these first two boxes — a good title and About section — you’re off to a great start. However, there’s one more thing you need to do; post content that highlights your personality and expertise. Again, you still need to answer the question “Why do I want to connect with this person?”
Quentin Michael Allums, creative director at Quentin Michael Studios, answered that question with a powerful video in which he shared advice that changed the direction of his career.
The content is about his past, but he’s sharing it to help others build their future.
Review and update your current title and About section. Then, publish five posts that provide value to your audience while also highlighting your expertise.
Related: The Future of Networking — Predictions From a Networking App Entrepreneur
Step 2: Determine who you would to connect with
The point of sending a connection request is to form a meaningful and (hopefully) mutually beneficial relationship. I’m not saying you need to change each other’s lives, but there should be some point to being connected. Maybe you would like to explore partnership opportunities, interview them for a LinkedIn article you’re writing or share valuable information. Again, this will differ based on who you are and what you do. The main point here is to be intentional about who you reach out to.
Here are a few reasons why it may be a good idea to connect with someone.
- Seeking press and podcast appearances
- Growing your professional network
- Developing potential partnerships
- Nurturing business prospects
- Landing job opportunities
Notice I didn’t mention engaging with their content as a reason to connect. If you just want to see their posts you’re welcome to hit the “Follow” button in their profile. This way you’ll see their content in your feed even if you’re not connected. I’m bringing this up because if you reach out and say “I love your content and look forward to following along!” you still haven’t provided a reason for why you should connect. However, we will get to what you should say when connecting soon.
Make a list of at least ten people you’d like to connect with and start following them on LinkedIn. Don’t connect yet!
Step 3: Engage with their content
I just mentioned how many people say “I love your content and look forward to following along!” But guess what? Some of them never actually engage with the other person’s content; it’s simply a generic message they send to everyone they reach out to. You’re going to take an entirely different approach by consistently engaging with their content. Not only will you start building a relationship with the person you want to connect with, but your network will also see your comments and learn more about you as well.
I suggest bookmarking a link to their post by visiting their profile and then selecting
Show all activity →Posts
You can then bookmark this URL and/or add it to a Google spreadsheet
I suggest checking the profiles of the ten people you’ve identified once a day to see if they’ve posted. It should only take about five minutes and this will help make sure you’re commenting on their posts in a timely manner.
If you’d like, you can click on the bell in their profile to get notified every time they post.
Once you see they’ve posted new content, it’s time for you to engage. But don’t say something basic like “great post!” or “facts!” Leave a comment that acknowledges their posts while also sharing your perspective. To increase your chances of getting a response, ask a question as well.
As you may have guessed, this shouldn’t be something you can Google.
A few suggestions on what to ask about:
- Additional details about the post
- Books or resources the author recommends
- Advice on specific use cases
Of course, the question should be contextually relevant to the post but these suggestions should point you in the right direction. The more thoughtful your comment is, the more likely you are to start forming a bond with the post’s author. Doing this on a consistent basis will give you more insight into their personality and how you can add value to the discussion.
And, I’ll stop now to address something that may be going through your head right now. Why does this have to be so time-consuming? Like I said in the beginning, you’re going to do what others won’t, which is why you’ll grow a more powerful network. I’m somewhat borrowing from NFL great Jerry Rice who once said “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” He ended up winning three super bowls and holds multiple NFL records so it worked out well for him.
This is also why you want to be selective in regard to the highly sought-after people you want to connect with. Jerry Rice is on LinkedIn but I’m not sure how relevant a connection would be beyond the fact that our names rhyme.
Since you’re putting in this much work, make sure it will be worth it in the end.
Revisit your list of people you want to connect with. Bookmark their shared post URL and add thoughtful comments to all their posts.
Related: How to Use ‘the Law of Reciprocity’ to Build Better Business Relationships
Step 4: Send a custom message with your connection request
You’ve put in the time and effort, now it’s time to finally make the connection. Since they most likely get flooded with a ton of requests, you’ll want to make yours stand out by customizing it. This goes beyond mentioning their name or something you could have learned by quickly scanning their profile. The more customized the message, the more likely you’ll get a response.
Here are two simple ways you can make that happen:
- Ask a genuine question
- Give a genuine compliment
For example, Nicole Kyle is a Gender equity advocate, researcher and web3 educator. She recently shared this post about taking a break from her podcast to focus on her mental health.
If you’ve been following her for some time this could provide a great opportunity to reach out.
Ask a genuine question:
“Hi Nicole, I recently saw your post about taking a break from your podcast. I have one as well and I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. I’m wondering if you had reservations about taking a break and any impact it may have on your audience? I appreciate any insight you can share!”
Give a genuine compliment:
“Hi Nicole! I’ve been following your podcast for a while now – the Krystal Pino episode is my favorite – and I wanted to commend you for taking the time to focus on your mental health. Have you ever considered doing a LinkedIn Live so fans like me can interact with you?”
Technically, both responses included a question but the second one focused more on a compliment. This is important because asking questions gives people a reason to respond. I should note, asking them if they want to join you for a virtual coffee is NOT a good question to ask. Your goal here is to start a conversation that leads to a business relationship or more, but there’s no need to rush it.
Other ways to start a conversation include:
- Mentioning something they wrote in their newsletter
- Sharing your favorite part of a recent podcast they hosted
- Providing praise or additional information about one of their posts
Again, the goal is to make it clear you’re reaching out to them specifically and not just connecting with people at random.
Commit to sending a connection request to everyone on your list within the next month.
Related: Why Authenticity Is a Key Ingredient to Entrepreneurial Success, and How to Make Sure You Have It
Step 5: Follow up on your request
So, what happens if you do all that and they still don’t reply? First of all, don’t take it personally, they may have hundreds of pending requests and haven’t had time to sift through all of them. After waiting a few days I suggest mentioning the request you sent as a comment in one of their posts.
See below for an example.
“Hey Nicole, thanks for sharing this. By the way, I’m sure you get flooded with connection requests but I sent you one the other day. Hope to hear from you soon!”
Of course, there’s still no guarantee you’ll get a response but if you’ve built a meaningful list you’ve probably learned a lot from them during the process, provided value to your audience by commenting and may have formed relationships with some of their other followers.
Either way, you’ve made more productive use of your time and can repeat the process going forward.
Can I get a response from you?
I’m currently working on some new exciting projects to support current and emerging entrepreneurs (stay tuned), and it would mean the world to hear your thoughts directly.
If you have four minutes to spare, I’ve created this super short questionnaire and your responses will help shape the vision of my work.
And, by completing the survey you’ll also be entered to win a Lume Cube Edge Light. A feature-packed Desk Light specifically designed to enhance your appearance on Video Calls & Live Broadcasts.
Thanks in advance for your help!