Most prospects have tens (or even hundreds) of pending LinkedIn invites to respond to -- which means that when they finally get to yours, it’s only getting mere seconds of attention.
And in such a short span of time, a single bad line can condemn your invite to the “ignore” pile. If you want your invites to get accepted, check out nine clunkers to never use again.
9 Phrases That Kill LinkedIn Invites
1) “We’re both members of [LinkedIn group].”
You know it’s important to establish common ground with the prospect -- what better way to do that than mention a LinkedIn group you both belong to?
In fact, there are plenty of better ways. Since LinkedIn users can join up to 100 groups, and many groups have hundreds of thousands of members, belonging to the same one as someone else is hardly special. This line leaves prospects wondering, “So what?”
What to Say Instead:
If your prospect belongs to a group with fewer than 100 people, that’s the one to hone in on. Request to join, and once you’ve been approved, look for a comment or post they’ve made.
Their contribution will make great fodder for your opening line:
I appreciated your helpful [comment, post] on [topic] in [group name].”
2) “Would you be open to a quick phone call to discuss how [product] can help you?”
Asking for a phone call in your invite is like proposing marriage on the first date: Too much, too soon. If you don’t want to be denied -- or reported for spam -- strike this phrase from your vocabulary forever.
What to Say Instead: At this stage of the game, you have one simple goal: Convince the prospect you’re worth including in their LinkedIn network. (After they’ve accepted your request, you can message them to say thanks and build enough trust to schedule a meeting down the line.)
To give them a reason to accept, ask to keep up with their career. For example, you might write, “I'm hoping to become part of your network so I can follow your work in biotech.”
3) “I know we don’t know each other.”
If you know you’ve never met someone, they know too -- there’s no point in pretending otherwise. Don’t waste precious real estate on something you both know. Plus, this statement only reminds the prospect why they shouldn’t accept your invitation to connect.
(Similarly, stay away from “We’ve never met, but … ” or “Although we’ve never spoken before … ”)
What to Say Instead: Rather than acknowledging you’ve never crossed paths with your prospect, explain how you found their LinkedIn account in the first place. Not only will this make your request seem less random, it also gives you the opportunity to compliment them. A little flattery usually helps your chances.
Here’s an example:
I came across your profile while looking for experienced corporate communications specialists, and was impressed by how much you’ve accomplished in the last eight years.”
4) “I saw your profile and wanted to connect.”
This line is unnecessary. After all, if you didn’t want to connect, you wouldn’t be sending an invitation to connect.
Even worse, it’s completely focused on your actions and desires. The prospect doesn’t care about what you want, especially considering they’ve never spoken to you in their life.
What to Say Instead: If you want a favorable reception to your message, focus on what the prospect wants. That may require some detective work. For instance, you could review their Twitter to see if they’ve mentioned any challenges they’re facing at work, or review their company’s career page to find any positions for which you could recommend a connection or that indicate a strategic direction relevant to your product.
Alternatively, pass along a resource you think they’d benefit from.
Check out these sample lines:
I read your tweet about looking for a reliable video conferencing tool -- my team is a big fan of Zoom. :)”
I noticed BiggerPlanet is looking for a data scientist -- we just filled a similar position at my company, and our team found this hiring guide extremely useful [link].”
5) “I’d love to explore how we can provide value to each other.”
Unlike the last line, at least this one focuses on the mutual benefits of connecting. However, it’s still highly problematic: If you’re not already clear on how you can help the other person, then why reach out?
Furthermore, this comment assumes the prospect has the time, energy, and interest to sit around figuring out how you two can help each other. If that’s how sales worked, you’d already be at quota for life.
What to Say Instead: Don’t wait to “explore” your options: Provide value to the prospect starting from your first interaction and kick off the process yourself. If you’ve done your homework and you still can’t think of any way to enhance their life, focus on creating rapport instead.
You might write:
I also hail from the great state of Nebraska -- Huskers for the win! It would be great to connect on here.”
Here’s another sample rapport-building line:
I noticed you listed ‘roller derby’ under your interests -- that’s pretty darn cool. How true-to-life was the movie Whip It?”
6) “I’d love to have you join my webinar. Register here: [link].”
This line has more issues than a season of Dr. Phil. First, it’s far too self-serving -- you’re clearly attempting to drive webinar traffic and get the prospect into your funnel without understanding if they could actually benefit from the discussion.
Second, it begins with “I’d love ...” Pete Caputa, HubSpot’s VP of Sales, advises reps to cut “I’d love,” “I’d like,” or “I want” from their vocabulary.
As he puts it, “Who gives a sh*t what you want? Your prospects don't care about you. They care about themselves, their needs, and their own agenda.”
Harsh, but true.
What to Say Instead: Fixing this invitation-killer is easy: Highlight it and press “Delete.” Once you’ve connected with a prospect and familiarized yourself with their unique situation, interests, and potential pain points, then -- and only then -- should you send the link to a webinar you’re sure is relevant to them.
If you’re tempted to use “I’d love …” in a different section of your message, Caputa recommends swapping this expression out for “Would you be interested in …?”
7) “You’ve got a great profile -- let’s connect!”
Unfortunately, reps throw this meaningless line into their connection requests all the time. Prospects aren’t taken in by the flattery. They know this compliment could apply to virtually anyone who has a LinkedIn account. What does a “great” profile look like, anyway? And why is that a reason to connect?
The world will never know -- so please, don’t include this one in your invite.
What to Say Instead: Praise is persuasive when it’s both specific and genuine. With that in mind, look for something you truly admire about the prospect’s career, list of achievements, and/or company.
To give you an idea, you might write: “I started using the HubSpot CRM a month ago, and I’m never going back. It’s powerful but easy to use -- thanks for building a fantastic product!”
If you wanted to commend the prospect herself, try something like, “Three promotions in six years? You’re on fire.”
8) “Can I pick your brain on [topic]?”
Most people have an immediate and visceral response to this question -- and it’s not a positive one. Picking someone’s brain” brings up bizarre, violent, and parasitic mental images, so banning it from your connection requests is a no-brainer. (Sorry, I had to.)
What to Say Instead: Connecting with prospects by seeking their advice is an awesome strategy: It gives you an opportunity to speak face-to-face (or over the phone) while making them feel like a subject authority. However, there’s a much better way to ask.
Start by complimenting their expertise, then ask if they’d be open to a call or meeting, like so:
I’ve been following your blog posts on SEO best practices for years. Would you be open to a quick 20-minute meeting (at your convenience) to talk about rich snippets?”
9) “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
This phrase is LinkedIn’s suggested default message when you request to connect with somebody -- and if your prospect sees it, they’ll know you made exactly zero effort to customize your outreach.
What to Say Instead: Almost anything is better than this (except for the eight lines above, of course). Reference how your know the prospect, comment on a piece of content they’ve posted, and add a substantive bit of value.
Once you've replaced these cringe-inducing lines from your requests, prospects will be much likelier to click “accept.” After that, you can slide into their InMail like a pro.
Originally published Jul 14, 2016 8:00:00 AM, updated October 17 2017