When someone new accepts your connection request on LinkedIn, it presents an opportunity to start building a professional relationship. However, figuring out what to say in that initial message can be tricky. You want to make a good first impression and start things off on a friendly, professional note. Here are some tips on what to say to a new LinkedIn connection.
Thank them for connecting
First things first – thank them for accepting your invitation to connect. A simple “Hi John, thanks for connecting!” is a perfectly fine way to start the conversation. This lays the groundwork for a cordial relationship. Thanking someone right off the bat is just good manners.
Mention where you met or your common connection
Give some context about where you met them or who you have in common. This immediately reminds them of why they connected with you in the first place. For example, “Good to connect with you after meeting at last week’s industry conference” or “Jane Doe suggested we connect, so I’m glad we’re now linked up on LinkedIn.” Providing this context right away can jog their memory.
Comment on their background
Notice something interesting about their background or experience listed on their profile? Comment on it to break the ice! This shows you took the time to glance at their profile and are interested in learning more about them. For instance, “I see you just started a new role at XYZ Company – congrats! How is it going so far?” or “Looks like we both went to the University of Michigan – go blue!” Pointing out commonalities gets the conversation going.
Ask to meet or talk
If there is good alignment between your professional backgrounds or interests, suggest meeting up for coffee or a quick phone call. For example, “I’d love to hear more about your experience working at XYZ Company. Would you be open to grabbing coffee next week?” This moves the connection forward and sets the stage for an in-person meeting.
Share an article or other content
If you come across an interesting article, podcast, video, or other content related to their industry or job role, share it with them. Include a quick note about why you think they may find it worthwhile. Sharing useful content provides value upfront and gives them a reason to respond.
Ask for advice
Most people are happy to share advice and enjoy being recognized as industry experts. So don’t be afraid to pick their brain! You could say something like, “I noticed you founded your own consulting business 5 years ago. I’m thinking of taking the leap into consulting soon. Any advice for someone just starting out?” This thoughtful question shows you value their opinion.
Start a discussion
Scan their profile for clues about their interests and start a casual discussion. This could be about a conference you both attended, their volunteer work, or perhaps a hobby like golf or hiking. Keep it focused yet relaxed, like you’re continuing a conversation from your initial meeting. This makes the tone friendly and natural.
Be clear on your purpose
Before reaching out, think carefully about what you hope to gain from connecting. Is it industry advice? An introduction to someone else? A job opportunity? Whatever your purpose, have it clear in your mind so you can be focused in your outreach. This will come through in your message and interactions.
Keep it short
Long blocks of texts can be daunting, so keep your message concise. A few sentences are plenty to kick things off. You don’t need to try to get your whole life story or agenda across in that first note. Save deeper conversations for when you meet in person or hop on a call.
Proofread before sending
Read over your message and double check for any spelling or grammar errors before hitting send. Little mistakes may not seem like a big deal, but they can leave a bad first impression. You want your message to convey care and professionalism.
Follow up if they don’t respond
If you don’t hear back within a week or so, consider sending a polite follow-up message. Sometimes messages slip through the cracks of busy inboxes. Reaching out again shows persistence and interest in connecting. Just be careful not to come across as hounding them.
Personalize each message
When reaching out to multiple new connections, take the time to write a unique message for each person. Generic messages full of platitudes like “I’d love to add you to my professional network” have less impact. People want to feel special, not like one of dozens receiving a copy/paste message. Personalization goes a long way.
Offer to help
Rather than just asking for something, flip the script and offer your help first. People are much more inclined to assist those who have already supported them in some way. So think about how you can add value, whether through advice, an introduction to someone, or sharing an opportunity. Lead with generosity.
Focus on quality over quantity
Don’t send shallow connection requests to every person you find with an impressive job title. Prioritize forging meaningful relationships with those you genuinelly have strong alignment and rapport with. A handful of solid connections are infinitely more valuable than 500 casual acquaintances.
We all like to feel valued and appreciated. So if this new connection has already done something to help you out – made an introduction, shared advice, etc. – express sincere gratitude. Let them know the positive impact they’ve had on you. A little appreciation goes a long way in strengthening bonds.
Align on preferences for communicating
Everyone has different preferences when it comes to frequency and channels of communication. As you get to know this connection, subtly align on preferences so there are no surprises down the road. Some people are totally comfortable with frequent texts and impromptu calls, while others prefer scheduled emails and meetings. Understanding these subtleties prevents future misalignments.
Avoid sensitive topics
It’s best to steer clear of controversial topics like politics, religion, money, or personal relationships when first getting acquainted. You don’t yet know where they stand on sensitive issues or what may rub them the wrong way. Stick to neutral professional topics until you’re better acquainted.
Watch your tone
Written messages can sometimes come across differently than intended. Read over your note before sending to make sure the tone sounds friendly, sincere, and professional. Don’t rely solely on emojis and exclamation points to convey tone – carefully select your words to prevent misinterpretation.
Connect them to others
Once you get to know this connection a bit better, offer value by connecting them with others in your network who may benefit from knowing each other. For example, you could say “I was just talking with Julie who works at XYZ Company and I think you two would have great synergy. Let me know if I can make an introduction!” Acting as a connector between people demonstrates value.
In summary, that initial outreach when connecting with someone new on LinkedIn lays the foundation. Kick things off in a friendly, genuine way and the rest of the relationship can blossom from there. With thoughtfulness and care, you can make a great first impression.