Having a well-established network of friends and colleagues on LinkedIn is important. You can keep up to date with industry news and information as well as developments within your firm and your connections. But you want more. You need more connections to grow your personal brand and there’s a couple of people you absolutely must contact because they might hold the key to your next big deal.

Why aren’t people accepting my LinkedIn invitations?

Here’s the thing:

Most people are becoming more selective over who they connect with. Why? Because having a massive network of people you don’t know very well isn’t very useful. Furthermore, if you’re trying to get hold of an important decision maker, you’re probably not the only one.

These are the things you might be doing that are standing in your way of success:

Insert random stock photo that vaguely represents your article
Insert random stock photo that vaguely represents your article

1. Not personalizing a message


If you’re connecting with a friend, close colleague, or someone you’ve just met, you might not need to write a personalized message. BUT if not, always write a message. Even if it’s just to remind someone of where you met or where you saw them speak, say something. If you have a mutual connection, mention them. If you haven’t met them and share zero connections, make it plain why you are connecting.

2. Your profile picture sucks

Be honest with yourself. Do you look like someone who (a) is approachable and (b) means business? And maybe even, (c) are you recognisable? If any of these answers is ‘no’, sort out your picture. I’m amazed at how many people still do not have professional head shots on their LinkedIn profiles – it makes so much of a difference.

3. You’re leaving them to do the work

Make sure it is clear from your profile who you are, what you do and what business you have or work in. Don’t leave it to the imagination of the person you’re linking in with. This is an instant turn off and if someone is busy or trying to make their way through 100 requests, they won’t spend the time working out who you are, let alone why they might want to link in.

4. Asking to go for a coffee

I know this is crazy but don’t ask to go for a coffee unless they’re definitely going to accept. This is important.

Proposing a coffee meeting is creating a blocker. Let’s say they don’t want to meet for coffee. Maybe their office is a little out of town or they simply don’t have the time at the moment. Now they’ve got another decision to make. Should they accept the invitation and ignore the coffee request? Should they accept and politely decline? What if they need a few days to think about it – maybe to check the diary?

Don’t make someone commit to anything other than accepting your LinkedIn request or you’ll scare some people off!

You might be wondering:

“I’ve written personal messages and my profile is fully optimized but I’m still not connecting with the person I need.”

Here’s the big problem:

5. There’s no hook in your approach

Okay, you’ve kept your message short and sweet. You’ve name-dropped a mutual connection. You’ve specifically explained what you want from them and you’ve not asked them to go for a coffee with you. Still nothing.

The problem is that there’s no hook. What if they’re not interested in helping you out on that specific need? You need to give a reason for them to link in. Present an opportunity that your mutual connection suggesting you might be interested in or could help with. This is not a bending of the truth – it’s simply applying some sales techniques and providing some mystery. Don’t necessarily tell someone the end of the story first. Remember people like being asked for help but they do not like being a stepping stone = it can be a fine line.

6. You’re giving up too easily

Have you tried connecting more than once? Have you send them a couple of messages? Sure, you might need to invest in a premium LinkedIn account if you’re messaging more distant connections but it could be well worth it it these contacts are valuable. Always try second and third approaches to people over a two week period. You’d be surprised how many people want to see if you’re really keen before responding and often people will assume a first approach is spam.

What’s the bottom line?

First impressions count. Before you begin tracking down and attempting to link in with a make-or-break connection, get your profile sorted – picture, summary, experience and ideally some endorsements and recommendations.

ALWAYS personalise your message whether you actually know this person or whether you’re speculating. Mention a mutual connection, keep it snappy and give them a hook to reel them in on. Oh, and don’t give up!

LinkedIn is an incredibly important platform for you and your business. Making sure you land the right connections is just one of the things you need to get right to be making the most out of if. If you’ve found the post useful and you’d like your network to know you’ve got your finger on the pulse, feel free to share.