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Online to OfflineLet me guess: Your pipeline is full of meetings and you cannot possibly fit another cup of coffee into your week. Not the case? So you’re telling me that you would love to have more meetings in your calendar (and so would your boss)? Keep reading to learn a new way to engage your LinkedIn network.

How often do you receive LinkedIn invitations from people you don’t know? It happens to me all the time. There are times when I know the person is a good prospect for me and I just have not met them. However, most of the time, I have no idea why the person wants to connect with me.

LinkedIn gives you the option to “Reply (don’t accept yet)” and in both scenarios, I have gotten in the habit of doing this before I accept this kind of connection invitation into my LinkedIn network. What good is someone in your network who you don’t know? You always want to strategically and intentionally build your network so that you can more authentically engage with them. Unless you are a recruiter, consider the quality of your network, not necessarily the quantity of connections in it.

Reply before accepting

I tell business professionals that the “Reply (don’t accept yet)” button is one of the most valuable buttons on LinkedIn. Why? Because it led me to 38 in-person meetings in just 6 short weeks. Instead of accepting people into my network and then sending them a message, I decided to do the opposite: Let me start a conversation with them first, and then see if it makes sense to add them to my network. I was blown away at the responses I received, the number of meetings I set, and the new business I earned. LinkedIn is the most powerful business development tool on the market and this is just one way to use it to increase your business opportunities.

Intero Advisory often mentions bringing your offline network of connections online where you can engage with them and stay top of mind through LinkedIn. It is also important to think about taking your online network (i.e. those who want to connect with you on LinkedIn) and taking them offline (i.e. to lunch or coffee).

Here are some ideas you can use when replying before accepting:

  • “Hi Robert, Thanks for requesting my connection. I’m not sure we’ve met?”
  • “Hi Drew, Thanks for requesting my connection. I noticed we have over 80 connections in common. I can’t believe we haven’t met! Want to grab coffee sometime?”
  • “Hi Sarah, Thanks for requesting my connection. Forgive me for asking, but have we met? I use LinkedIn to connect professionally with those I already know and trust so we can help each other grow our businesses. Would you mind sharing with me how our connecting might be mutually beneficial professionally?”

Do not be surprised when you do not get a 100% response rate. Many people don’t have a strategy for growing their LinkedIn network. And that’s okay, but you are different. You share articles and relevant industry news with your LinkedIn network so that you are seen as an expert in your field or a resource for knowledgeable information. You use LinkedIn as an entry point to begin conversations and save the selling for those phone calls and meetings. You are seen as a business professional who people want to connect with on LinkedIn.

Let us know how “Reply (don’t accept yet)” works for you. You might be surprised at the conversations you begin that lead to new business…

For more tips on using LinkedIn, check out our resources.

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