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You’re doing it wrong: LinkedIn Invitations

Dec 12
LI logo_horrified

I am a LinkedIn open networker.  This means I enjoy connecting with different kinds of people, and I am willing to connect with people I do not personally know and may never personally meet.  It does not mean, however, that I will connect with any slug who sends me a connection request.

I choose to be an open networker because I like connecting with thought leaders, industry contacts, people who share similar interests (groups, causes, volunteer work), people who may have connections I will find helpful at some point in the future, old friends, former classmates, etc.  Because of the breadth of my network, I am somewhat frequently contacted by recruiters who are searching for someone with a particular background, hoping I can assist them in sourcing a solid candidate with a good personal recommendation.  For these reasons and more, I have been fairly liberal in how I’ve determined whether or not to accept a LI connection request from people I don’t personally know.

Until now.

Today I drew the line.  I’m changing my game.  I’ll still be an open networker, but I’m about to become a lot more brutal in how I select and accept my invitations.  Why today?  Because today, in the span of about an hour, I got nine of these:

*yawn*

At least 80% of the connection requests I receive…..no, more like 90%….look exactly like that.  Let’s break down everything that’s wrong with this picture.

 

Actual photo of my cat mimicking my expression.

1) You selected “Friend” as your reason for connecting with me, and I have no idea who the hell you are.  Yeah, no…we’re not friends.  And if you would like to become friends, you’re doing it wrong.  You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger in a Starbucks and say, “Hi, we’re friends,” and sit down at their table, would you?  This is really no different.  You can’t see me, but when you send invitations under “Friend” and I don’t know you, this is the face I’m making. ——————>

2) You gave me no reason to care who the hell you are.  As an open networker, I like to connect with people I don’t personally know if I find them interesting, or if I find connecting with them potentially advantageous to me, or some other compelling reason.  You didn’t introduce yourself.  You didn’t tell me why you selected my profile to connect with.  You didn’t highlight any groups, causes or special interest topics we share in common.

3) This is lazy.  You used the generic LinkedIn, auto-generated message “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”  Boooooooorrriiiiinng.  Look, don’t take my word for it.  There are literally tens of thousands of bloggers and fellow LI users saying the same thing I am, such as this excellent Business Insider article.  Stop doing this.  Seriously.  The only time it’s acceptable to use this generic message is when you are sending an invite to someone you know extremely well, with whom you have communicated with recently (your boss from 6 years ago doesn’t count), who is expecting your invitation.

If you really want to connect with someone on LinkedIn that you don’t know, here’s a short list of Dos and Don’ts:

DO:

  • Choose people with whom you already have some tangible, however tenuous, connection.  This means mutual friends or contacts, mutual groups, mutual interests.  Or…
  • If you share no such connection, but you want to connect anyway, be honest about your intentions.  If I receive a message like one of these below, I will accept…every time.

  • Be pithy, but be polite.  LI doesn’t give you much in the way of characters to send your invites, but that’s no reason to be vague or rude.
  • Chekc you’re speeling!  It’s amazing we still have to point this one out but…there you go.

 

DON’T:

  • Use the generic message (unless it’s a close personal friend or colleague expecting your invite as noted above).
  • Immediately start spamming your new connection for job requests when you’ve failed to introduce yourself.  If you do that to me, I will remove you from my contacts immediately.
  • Choose “Friend” as your reason for connecting when, you know, you aren’t.

Following these simple rules will improve your networking experience on LinkedIn considerably.  Open Networkers such as myself thank you in advance.

Now, go forth and make many connections.

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