If you are on Linkedin you will get connection requests from people you don’t know. And you will also get plenty of bland connection requests from people you’re not sure whether or not you know.
It’s very tempting to treat such connection requests in the same way as other unsolicited messages. But that would be a mistake.
Linkedin prompts users to connect with people they know and with people they would like to know. I think the worst thing you can do when you get a bland Linkedin connection request is to judge anyone badly for sending this.
Many users just don’t yet understand that it’s better to personalise the connection requests. Indeed they may be unaware that it’s possible. After all, facebook doesn’t provide this facility. Nor does twitter. And nor does the Linkedin ‘mobile’ site.
And then there are some people who think that it is the ‘done thing’ to simply agree with Linkedin when the system suggests you connect with people ‘you may know’. They click the ‘connect’ button and in some cases the system sends a standard connection request without even offering you the facility to personalise it.
I probably receive around 50 connection requests a week. Only a minority of these are personalised. They always stand out and always lead to me sending back a personalised response.
Very occasionally I’ll get a connection request from someone who is obviously a spammer and I report these. The other requests I receive fall into one of four categories:
1 – People whom I have met in real life or whom I am due to meet.
2 – Accountants and tax related people who may have read my articles or blog posts or heard me speak – I accept all such requests and send a personal note back.
3 – Apparent strangers who send a personalised connection request – I consider these on their merits.
4 – Apparent strangers who have given me no clue as to why they want to connect with me. Rather than automatically ignore these I send the following message:
Thanks for your invitation to connect. Although I have thousands of connections here I always hesitate before connecting with someone new. I find it helps to know why they want to connect as Linkedin prompts random connections as well as focused ones.
I’m sorry if my memory is at fault. If we have met for real or engaged on line please remind me. And do please let me know what prompted you to want to connect with me here. Is there something specific in my profile perhaps that makes you think that us connecting could be mutually beneficial?
Around 3 in 10 of such replies prompt a response which may lead to me agreeing to the connection. Those who don’t reply I then ignore. I leave it a few days though before clicking the ‘ignore’ button as, again, I know some newer users don’t check linkedin every day and don’t see all their messages.
Positive responses to the above message have brought me back in touch with ex-colleagues who I have forgotten or who have new (married) names, have generated speaking enquiries and bookings and have led to valuable introductions to third parties.
I do not agree with those people who check out the sender’s profile and only agree to connect if there is an obvious reason to do so. That’s the same mistake we make if we consider that networking is all about the people in the room. It’s also about the people they know. Unless we ask them we won’t know why someone has asked to connect with us.
So, to reiterate, I think the worst thing you can do when you receive a bland Linkedin connection request is to judge the person who has sent it, ‘ignore’ the request or penalise them, by refusing to connect with them, blocking them or sending back a snotty note.
Do you agree? What do you do when you get bland linkedin connection requests?