By Steph Jones

6 reasons people aren’t accepting your LinkedIn invitations

January 3rd, 2023
7 min read

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 amongst your connections.

But you’re ambitious. You want more. You need more connections to grow your personal brand and there are a few people you absolutely must contact because they might hold the key to your next big deal. But all is not well. You’ve tried to link in with these people and they’re ignoring you. Here’s why.

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 and people are afraid they’re going to be sold to. Furthermore, if you’re trying to get hold of an important decision maker;  a) they’re busy and b) you’re probably not the only one!

We’re run our fair share of LinkedIn campaigns as a social media management company, so we thought we’d help you out. Here are the top six reasons people aren’t accepting your connection requests and what might be standing in the way of your success: 

1. You’re not personalising a message

If you’re connecting with a friend, close colleague or someone you’ve just met, you might not need to write a personalised message. BUT, if not, always write a message. Even if it’s just to remind someone of where you met or the event at which 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.

Some users find cold approaches without an introduction incredibly rude and they’ll simply dismiss your request immediately. Sending the standard “I like to add you to my professional network” line will not do – make an effort!

2. Your profile picture sucks

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

It’s not just your picture that needs optimising either. The old adage “first impressions count” is certainly applicable to LinkedIn so ensure each element of your profile is up to scratch.

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 with you.

A combination of a strong ‘professional headline‘ and a succinct, to the point, message about why you’re requesting to link in should do the trick.

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 your request. 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. You’ve just provided them another decision to make. Should they accept the invitation and ignore the coffee request? Should they accept and politely decline the coffee? 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 – you’re creating a blocker and you’ll scare some people off!

You might be wondering:

“I’ve written personal messages and my profile is fully optimised 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 project or idea? You need to give them a reason to link in.

Ask yourself:

What’s in it for them?

Present an opportunity that your mutual connection suggested 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 before you’ve even started. Remember: people like being asked for help but they do not like being a stepping stone – it can be a fine line so tread carefully and make sure they feel valued in the process.

And finally:

6. You’re giving up too easily

Have you tried connecting more than once? Have you sent 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 if 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. Guaranteed, a follow-up message will grab your prospective connection’s attention and prove you’re committed to creating a relationship.

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 it. 

Steph Jones.
Steph Jones

Head of Social

A hands-on Head of Social, with extensive experience across Charity, Retail and eCommerce, both agency side and client side, with brands such as WWF, Virgin Pure and Purity Brewing. Steph considers all facets of the customer journey through social and paid media, as well as creating engaging content in line with the business goals to capture attention and convert audiences.