3 tips for reviewing and managing your LinkedIn connection requests

LinkedIn is a massive network of potential connections which may or may not translate into business for you. In the UK alone there are 23+ million users of LinkedIn.

Do you get connection requests from the right people? The ones who would be your ‘ideal clients’?

Ideally you should have a plan for who you want to connect with before you start using LinkedIn. In my previous blog post “Who do you want to attract on LinkedIn?” I explained about creating avatars of your ideal clients and planning how to attract them.

If you don’t do this then you will end up with a network of people who may not be the right ones for you.

1 – Identify who your connection requests are from

I get lots of connection requests and have around 150 unanswered ones from people I don’t know. I recently reviewed them to see what patterns there are and how many of them are my ideal clients:

Local Small Business Owners

These are people I may have either met briefly, or we know someone (or a lot of people) in common. It could be that we have been to the same networking meetings or are members of the same organizations. I may accept them if we know a lot of people in common and they may be interested in coming along to one of the networking groups that I run.


I’ve trained several recruitment companies in London and these people tend to be well connected. They talk to each other and also notice who connects with whom. They are potential clients for me for LinkedIn group training courses.

Other social media experts

These people are in the same industry as me however I don’t view them as competition. There are opportunities for collaboration and sharing knowledge. I am also setting up some ‘train the trainer’ programmes for LinkedIn and some of these people may be suitable trainers or partners.

Entrepreneurs and Speakers

These people are definitely my ideal clients as they want to become better known for their expertise. They are people who understand the importance of building a network in order for them to have an audience to speak to (physically and virtually) and to find people like event organizers and event hosts for speaking engagements. LinkedIn is one of the platforms that gives them a ready-made audience (once they have built the audience) each time they have something to share. They may want to attend one of my VIP training days.

What patterns are there amongst your connection requests or in the people you have connected with?

Miscellaneous other requests

These are people who I have never met and who send a connection request without a personal note. I always advise adding a note as it acts as an introduction or a reminder as to how you know someone. With these people I will look at their profile, see whether they are of interest to me and then I will send them a message asking why they would like to connect with me (see 2 below).

Review your connection requests

When going through your connection requests, view the person’s profile and ask the following questions:

  • Do you know them?
  • Who do you know in common?
  • What business are they in?
  • What job title do they have?
  • Where did you meet them?
  • Have you met them networking?
  • Is it as a result of you speaking at an event?
  • Are they a potential ‘ideal client’?
  • Do they work for an organization you would like to work with?

If you think you would like to be connected with them then accept the request. It’s also a great idea to send a message at this point to start the conversation/relationship building. How about offering to meet up or sharing a link to some free resources?

What patterns do you notice in your requests?

2 – Reply to connection requests

LinkedIn has an option (fairly well hidden) for you to reply back to a connection request before you decide to accept or ignore it.

To access this you need to be looking at the list of all your outstanding connection requests.

So go to My Network and click on Manage All. You will see an option to send a message below each request.

You can then send a personal message back to this person asking why they want to connect with you. I send something like “Thanks for your connection request. I help people learn how to use LinkedIn effectively. Is this of interest to you? Kind regards Emma”

I will then wait to see if I get a response. Sometimes someone has clicked on the wrong button by mistake and didn’t intend to connect, other times they will not respond at all. For those that do make the effort to respond and depending upon their response, I will connect with them.

TIP: Don’t simply ignore requests from people you don’t know as they may not know how to use LinkedIn properly and you may be missing out on business.

I had a request from someone I didn’t know a few months ago which may turn into a speaking engagement next year.

3 – Export your connections

You can export a list of your connections to a .csv file (Excel can read these) and you can add them to a CRM system (the way you do this has changed).

To do this go to My Network then find Managed Synced and Imported Contacts (top right) then the Export Contacts option is at the bottom right under Advanced Options.

  1. Click Request Archive.
  2. You will receive an email to your Primary Email address which will include a link where you can download your list of connections.

One important point to note is unless the person has given you permission to add them to a mailing list then you cannot send them mass mailshots (an individual email is fine).

This is part of a series of blog posts on using LinkedIn strategically. Read more here.

If you’d like to create or update your own LinkedIn strategy please contact us.