Mic Johnson again asserts, over at Ragan’s PR Daily, that we shouldn’t agree to connect with just anybody on LinkedIn:
1. Generally speaking, connect only with people you know, trust, and respect. Anyone can build a massive network of people they don’t know, and those collectors are generally “takers” rather than “givers.” Steer clear of them.
2. When you send a LinkedIn invitation, personalize it. As I mentioned in the earlier article, using the standard default message is another way of saying: “Hello. I’m lazy. This invitation isn’t important enough for me to spend the 15-20 seconds it would take to write a personal message telling you who I am, how we know each other, and why I want to connect.”
3. As a general rule, many people do (and more people should) place tremendous value on their LinkedIn network. Respect that, and don’t assume that they are going to add you to their trusted network just because you sent a LinkedIn request.
4. Most people who do this aren’t Linkedin Jerks. They simply haven’t had any training on the platform and don’t know any better, because “everyone else always sends me that standard message.” Which brings me to another point: How do you differentiate yourself on a platform such as LinkedIn? It certainly isn’t by doing what everyone else is doing.
5. If someone sends you a LinkedIn request with the default message, reply with an offer to meet for coffee to get to know each other first, or you can simply start an online dialogue. An actual message I sent recently is below:
Thanks for the invitation and for taking the time to read and comment on the material you’ve read.
I typically reserve my LinkedIn network for people that I know, trust, respect, have worked with, etc. and that is also how we train people to use LinkedIn as social media coaches. This is nothing against you personally; just the way I choose to grow and protect my network. Hope you understand.
All of that said and dutifully quoted, here’s a problem I have with such advice: I know a lot of people. Even more people know me. In real life, I often (sometimes several times in a day) have apparent strangers come up to me and start conversations in a way that makes it obvious that they assume I know who they are. And in truth, they probably have every right to make such an assumption.
It is reasonable for me to assume, in return, that every unrecognized person who sends me a LinkedIn invitation could actually be someone I should know, but do not recall. There are a lot of people out there like that.
So I’m certainly not going to admit, in writing, that I don’t know such people. I’m either going to approve them (if they appear, by job description, to be someone I should know for sound business reasons) or ignore them. And usually the former.