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Gini Dietrich

Accepting Standard LinkedIn Invites

By: Gini Dietrich | April 13, 2011 | 
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Many months ago, Arik Hanson and I were having a Twitter conversation about LinkedIn. His question?

How do you feel about getting “I’d like to add you to my professional network” requests without any mention of how the person knows you?

That drives me nuts. I do a ton of speaking and I “meet” a lot of people through that, as well as online. If you don’t tell me how you know me, or how we’ve recently met, you’re making me do an awful lot of work to figure it out on my own.

At the time, Ari Herzog jumped into the conversation and said the whole point of social networking is just that: To be social and network.  His point is that you should just accept people into your network.

I disagreed a little bit, at the time. But I disagree even more today.

Why?

I’ll bet I get at least five spam “I’d like to add you to my professional network” requests a day. You can tell they’re spam because the name is usually  something like “Money King,” but sometimes they’re not that obvious. If I went with Ari’s notion, I’d have a good few hundred people in my account, spamming my real network.

Would that piss you off if you were in my network?

Because I have this innate need to want to be liked by everyone, I used to take time to click on the invite, go in to the person’s account, figure out who we know in common, and decide whether or not they’re a good fit for my network.

But that takes a lot of time.

A lot of time that can easily be solved with a, “Hey Gini! We met when you spoke in Omaha last week and I would love to connect with you here.”  Or a “Gini, we follow one another on Twitter. My handle is @imcourteous.”

So. Much. Better.

If someone takes the time to do that, even if I don’t really know them, I will take Ari’s advice and accept them into my network. I’ll also make a note on how we know one another so that when I get an introduction request, I can be courteous back and say, “Hey Paul. We met when I spoke in Omaha last April. A girlfriend of mine is interested in working at your company. May I make an introduction?”

You see, without that point of reference, I can’t be helpful. And THAT is the point of LinkedIn.

What is your policy?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

156 comments
gurnage
gurnage

I fully agree with your post. Just because we are digitally networking doesn't mean that people should blindly send invites to strangers. I make it a point to specifically tell the person how I know them/if we worked together when I send a network request on LinkedIn.

Sometimes they don't know me, but if I tell them I am a fan of their blog or that I liked their article on "x" topic, the response I get is more of surprise and always an accepted invite. I get more responses thanking me for specifically stating why I am asking to connect than any other reason. It should not be the recipient's job to have to spend wasted time researching how or even if they know the person asking to connect.

For those connect requests that I receive, I will always accept if someone says they graduated from my college or are a member of the same group than a blind invite. I have chosen to ignore these requests. How can they be beneficial if they don't make an effort?

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

I can't wait to see you next month. I'm going to walk up to someone we don't know and say, "I'd like to be friends because you're someone I trust."

KensViews
KensViews

I'm still surprised when I got standard LinkedIn invitations, particularly those from strangers, because it says something like "I want to add you to my professional network because you're someone I trust". Wait a minute--you don't know me yet you trust me? And you want to connect, and you can't take TEN SECONDS to tell me why?! That's like going up to someone at a party and saying "I'd like to be friends..." and nothing more. All the more inexcusable, because there is so much out there that says "Do NOT use LinkedIn's standard invitation" and that shares the right way to start a connection on LinkedIn, or anywhere else in social media. C'mon people! Guess I've got my crankypants on this morning!

AngelaRMyers
AngelaRMyers

I am new to LinkedIn, but I assume that that an introduction and reminder on how the potential connection met you was a given. This is not a friend request on Facebook, this is a professional contact site and no explanation would be inappropriate. As a side note, after reading a comment from HeatherWhaling below about LinkedIn being spammy... I'm truly shocked. I thought it was the elite of the social media networking sites.

allarminda
allarminda

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Need I say more? I completely agree with you, but that may be because we share the same innate need to want to be liked by everyone.

patmcgraw
patmcgraw

Great post - I just ignore the generic copy/invitation from strangers. Long ago, I would reply with "Why do you think we should connect?" but that drew so few responses that I stopped investing the time.

Today, you need to put forth a little effort and reference something we have in common and/or why you want to connect - and then I accept in a heartbeat.

As for my own invitations to connect, I make sure I explain exactly what I am thinking so they see a potential benefit for accepting and getting to know me.

I agree that the goal is to meet new people but tell me why - what's in it for me? And if I can be of service to you, I want you to know how and that you can call on me whenever I can be of assistance. But connecting for the sake of connecting is wasted energy.

EricaCosminsky
EricaCosminsky

This drives me nuts! I even put notes on my invites if it's someone I know and am really close to. I even put a special note when I invited my Dad into my network.

I get tons of these. I own a business-specialized transcription company and I stopped accepting invites with no messages. 90% of them were medical transcription companies trying to get me to outsource work to them. I got a really bad taste in my mouth over LinkedIn because of scummy people like that. Sersiously, they don't even wait 4 minutes after I accept them to spam my account.

But on the other hand, if it is someone I met and it's not clear to me I'm probably missing out on them.

Steve Birkett
Steve Birkett

Each network has its own set of norms and courtesies, which to me makes each different in terms of the 'socializing' that we undertake on a given platform. Linkedin is, outwardly, a professional network and our communication there should be conducted accordingly, so I fully agree that people adding others should make it clear why they're reaching out. Beyond that, it's simply common courtesy if you know that the person will have to work to recall who you are.

The other facet, one which applies most strikingly to Linkedin, is that your network reflects you professionally on that site. It's used far more to connect to employers and references, sometimes in relation to jobs where quality networks are crucial. If our network contains thousands of people across seemingly disconnected professions and disciplines, that could reflect poorly on the trust we place in just about anybody.

Twitter is a great place to be friendly and openly chat to just about anyone who reaches out to you. Why not use the more appropriate tool for the job, then expand to Linkedin if the relationship calls for it?

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

I embrace the idea of "my network's network." Meaning, I will connect with people who not only benefit me, but also my network.

But even so, geez, please send me a friendly note if you want to connect. That's all. Even just add "Hi Jenn!"

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Oops I forgot. Yes I actually do not accept LinkedIn requests from strangers, nor do I automatically follow people back on Twitter, and I never accept a friend request on Facebook if I don't know you.

As issue is network access. This is no different about why I refuse to do anything on Facebook that is a 3rd party Platform for a Brand that gives them access to my friends and associates without their permission. I am not sure if LinkedIn does the same but I am pretty sure it then allows you to see the other persons network. So it is as much a matter of respecting your network connections as your yourself.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I am back! Anyone miss me? I see 111 comments. I bet every single one is where is the Alien duder? Hold on let me read them! Wow I knew it. That is so nice to feel missed. Well I have returned. You can all carry on and now relax and stop worrying.

HeatherWhaling
HeatherWhaling

The worst ones are when someone claims to have done business with you, when in reality, you've never worked with them. Just because we're connected via Twitter doesn't mean we've done business together.

I used to be much stricter about who I would accept LI invites from, but now I'm a bit more open. Even still, if I have *no idea* who you are or how we know each other, I'll leave your invite in LinkedIn purgatory -- I won't accept it, but I won't necessarily deny it either. If you're a PR student, I'll accept it. If you're someone who participates in #pr20chat -- even if I don't know you personally -- I'll happily connect with you. But, it's the people in the middle who I can't quite place that I sort of ignore. At some point, maybe I'll take the time to research who the person is. But, i figure if it's someone I *really* want in my network, I'll either remember them past business dealings or they'll take the time to say "hey, remember when we worked on Project X together ..." I find LinkedIn to be very spammy (far more so than Twitter or Facebook, IMO), so I try to cut down on the spam by being a bit pickier. Right or wrong? Who knows, but it's what works for me. For now at least. :)

PointA_PointB
PointA_PointB

Great topic! I had someone send me the generic LinkedIn request and it took quite a while to dig around and figure out who she was. We worked together 15 years ago but she made no mention of the company or that she got married and has a new last name. Major fail. I am always happy to connect with former colleagues and it takes a click or two to make the whole process more professional and easier for everyone.

Ricardo Bueno
Ricardo Bueno

Back when you could customize the invite, here's what my process looked like:

1.) I wrote a blog post to recap the event (often, I was the speaker and took lots of photos). This post included a fun Animoto video and links to the photos on my Flickr Account.

2.) I sent a semi-personlized LinkedIn invitation that read something to the effect of: "Hey Gini, So great to meet you at the Ribeeziepalooza Tech Conference last week! Boy those two days flew by didn't they? Anyway, here's some photos from the event: [link to post here]. I look forward to staying in touch and please let me know how I can help you with anything... Best, Ricardo B. | a.k.a. Ribeezie"

To date I have 500+ connections and ~40 recommendations (from speaking + clients). But I don't use the network as much. I have invite requests from people I don't know or can't recall meeting. And an annoying stream of people who link they're Twitter accounts (I call this bit Lazy Marketing).

It used to be that (like you), I'd click on a person's profile, see what they do, click thru to their website and viola, a connection was made if we shared similar interests/goals. Now, I see spam. And requests for recommendations from people I DON'T KNOW.

It's still my favorite (or one of my favorite) social networks, always will be. I'm just not pleased with some of the ways it's tried to catch up on the social game that networks like Facebook and Twitter play.

RamonMartinezJr
RamonMartinezJr

Hi Gini,

How would a recent graduate (MBA Marketing) network with others on Linked In? Here's my sob story, lol! I live in Texas in a cotton farming community of 6,000 people. I completed my degree program online though Marylhurst University. There is no professional Marketing group in the "big city" near me. I would have to travel 6 hours to participate in such a group. I am also currently unemployed...which does not help matters.

So, I am guilty of sending said "standard" Linked In invitations. I have sent invitations to individuals who working in the marketing field or work for companies that I have an interest in working for. I have also connected with classmates. For the moment, I have no other method of networking with others in the field. I also have, Twitter and Facebook accounts and have made a couple of network connections, but the 140 character conversation is a bit challenging for me. I am learning as quick as I can, lol!

I would welcome any suggestions or comments anyone has, to help me make a more sincere invitation request. Thanks! Ramon

Kaboom J. Schneider
Kaboom J. Schneider

I've written many articles on networking (some of them good) and I ALWAYS scold people about the generic invitation, especially when they use the "friend" or "work with" function because they don't actually know the person. It may be a way of getting around the system but I advise people to at least include a personal note informing the recipient about WHY they want to connect.

Using the default invitation is like running past a person at a networking event and throwing a business card at them. They think you're nuts and someone usually gets a paper cut on the face

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@AngelaRMyers It used to be the elite, but it's gotten really spammy. But good for you for assuming an introduction and reminder were standard. We need more of you!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@patmcgraw I agree. It's not that hard to write a couple of sentences about why I'm inviting you to connect. It's POLITE.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@jennwhinnem I like the idea of helping others in your network, such a good point! Makes me want to work on improving mine. I think part of that is being a little careful who I LI, protect my network from a would-be scam artist.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@HeatherWhaling This morning @Griddy and I were laughing at all the invites we've gotten where people have said we worked together. I was a photographer. I had NO idea! So we agree...don't use that as a crutch to get into my network.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@PointA_PointB Wow. I'm impressed you went to that length to figure out who she was. I think I would have given up.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Ricardo Bueno I've gotten to your point - if you don't tell me how we know one another, too bad. You're spam. We're all busy and you expecting me to figure it out is just not courteous. And I really, really like your second point. A LOT!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@RamonMartinezJr In addition to @Kaboom J. Schneider advice, I would keep doing what you're doing, but add a personal note to each person. If you sent me a note that referenced that you read Spin Sucks and you particularly liked the LinkedIn post, with an invite to connect, I'd definitely accept it.

Kaboom J. Schneider
Kaboom J. Schneider

@RamonMartinezJr Join LinkedIn groups and connect with members of those groups. From there you can use the "introduction feature." List yourself as a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker, but as others have pointed out, watch out for spammers). Use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to create an online network you can build all social media outlets upon. It's not hard -- it just takes time, effort and good manners to connect with people.

Steve Birkett
Steve Birkett

@ginidietrich @AngelaRMyers I find that a lot of users have taken the professional-to-professional nature as a green light to constantly pitch to groups and individuals. I feel like they behave less this way on other networks, including Facebook, yet the 'business' aspect of Linkedin seems to make it acceptable.

We can do everyone a favor by making clear - in a pleasant and sociable manner, of course - that good manners and SM etiquette still apply.

allarminda
allarminda

Well, for the record, I have tried to post comments on numerous occasions, but this is the first time Livefyre recognized and allowed me to post. Hopefully, this will be a positive trend moving forward. And, yes,@justinthesouth & I met and hugged and agreed you're awesome!

RamonMartinezJr
RamonMartinezJr

Thank you, @ginidietrich @Kaboom J. Schneider, I am slowly learning Linked In etiquette 101. Who knew...I never knew...until now! Your advice sounds easy enough to follow. So off I go, for some more learnin' and connectin' (I'm a Texan, what can I say? LOL!) Don't be surprised if'n I come knockin' at yer Linked In door!!! Funnin' aside, thank you, I appreciate the advice! Ramon

RamonMartinezJr
RamonMartinezJr

@Kaboom J. Schneider @RamonMartinezJr Thanks for the advice...how do you list yourself as a LION? I have seen this on some profiles but I didn't understand what it actually meant. if I do this, how do I spot the spammers? Thanks, again! Ramon

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

@Steve Birkett @ginidietrich @AngelaRMyers

Steve,,

I agree with you that some may think the biz. nature of LinkedIn allows the unlimited "hawking of wares" as though it were an open air marketplace. I believe however, it is a waste of time to gently and respectfully nudge self-touts in the proper direction. By the time someone has joined LinkedIn (or any other SM site that counts adults as a target) if they haven't yet learned to 1. Listen 2. Have some insight as to the culture of the forum then 3. Speak, they never will.

Kaboom J. Schneider
Kaboom J. Schneider

@HowieG @ginidietrich @RamonMartinezJr That's one approach. Through trial and failure, there are many things I've found to not be effective when networking, either in person or online. One should probably never...

Accidentally have your shirt open to show a Superman Logo shirt underneath and say,“oops! I guess the secret’s out.”

Ask in a trembling voice, “you wouldn’t happen to have any anti-depressants or a weapon with you?”

Keep looking around nervously and ask if the person has seen any KGB agents around.

Wear tin foil on your shoes and tell people that they keep you safe from government mind experiments.

Tell people how great it is to finally be left out of your box for a couple of hours.

Ask if your pants fly is open and comment that it should be because you’re urinating.

Repeat “you have business?” over and over in broken English with an unidentifiable accent until the person walks away.

Do nothing but quote lines from “Caddyshack.”

Make a raspberry noise every time you take a step.

Listen intently to someone tell you what he or she do and then shake like you have a chill while hugging yourself and say “I’m going to need to take a long shower after hearing that!”

Tell people you work for a certain government agency and your official title is “cleaner.”

Say you’re an undertaker and then look the person up and down and comment how they would fit in a “number 6.”

Send thank you notes and end with a statement that you may be pregnant (whether you’re a man or woman) and believe they are the father (whether it’s a man or woman).

RamonMartinezJr
RamonMartinezJr

Thank you, @Kaboom J. Schneider , for the information on LIONs. I think the only LION I want is my birthday! I don't want to increase my numbers as I would like to build a network that I can contribute to in some way.

Bad analogy or not...I loved it! ;-)

Kaboom J. Schneider
Kaboom J. Schneider

@RamonMartinezJr There are LION groups but the rules are... accept ever invite. Soooo, spammers join the groups. You can just list (LION) on your profile with your name, but again, you get spammers.

I think the best thing to do is join groups of either like-minded people or groups that contain the people with whom you wish to do business and you will have the connect option of being in the same group.

Keep in mind that networking is not a numbers game -- it's a quality business. Charlie Sheen may have millions of Twitter followers but would any of them piss on him to put out the flames if he was on fire? Well, maybe that's a bad analogy.

Kaboom J. Schneider
Kaboom J. Schneider

@kamkansas @ginidietrich If I were to do a video, it would be a Sam Peckenpaw/John Woo type with business cards flying like ninja stars and severing limbs, sticking in eyes and blood squirting everywhere. "Networking Ninja!" It could work.

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