During her coaching program, an agency owner asked me: “I get requests from people I do not know, pretty regularly on LinkedIn. I typically do not accept requests when I don’t know the person—what’s your protocol on this sort of thing? Should I be more open?”
Everyone has their own policy. When I was an employee, I wouldn’t accept connections unless I’d met the person face-to-face (to ensure they passed a “not crazy” test).
As a business owner, I realized that earlier approach was too restrictive—especially because I noticed prospective clients would (sometimes) reach out to connect with me. In those cases, the LinkedIn connection request was often their first overture.
I don’t auto-approve everyone, but if they’re an agency leader, I assume they either need help now or are connecting in anticipation of wanting future help.
My 5-step process
Here’s my step-by-step process for handling random LinkedIn requests:
- Confirm that they’re agency leader (preferably an owner, but director+ works, too, since directors are influencers).
- Check their profile for rapport points (same school, shared past employer, they live in a place where I recently did a presentation, shared hobby, etc.).
- Approve the connection request.
- Reply via email (you now have to cut-and-paste their address from the profile to the email program).
- In the email, write something like: “Thanks for reaching out! Did you currently need help at <AgencyName>, or were you connecting in general?” (And mention rapport points, if applicable.)
Ideally, I’d send that email… and then a week later if they don’t reply, follow up (via Boomerang) with a CTA to sign up for my newsletter (so I can stay more top of mind). That doesn’t always happen—sometimes I have other priorities—but I at least connect if it sounds like a potential match.
What if you’re too busy right now?
Feel like you’re too busy or your pipeline is too full to respond? That’s the kind of marketing and sales attitude that’ll give you a dry pipeline in six months. Sending a personal response now goes a long way toward building a relationship with a lead… and who might be one email exchange away from becoming a sales-ready prospect.
To put it another way—if a prospect sends a LinkedIn request to you and two competitors… what happens if you ignore the request and a competitor chooses to respond?
Does accepting more connections dilute your network, if you haven’t met everyone in person first? Yes. But adjusting your process may help your overall goals.
Question: How do you handle random LinkedIn requests?