I am not a master of LinkedIn, nor am I a master of social media. But I have learned a lot through trial and error. Also, I have figured out the hard way what works best and what can anger others. My number one pet peeve is when someone will send me a LinkedIn invitation and I have never met that person.
I can already hear the trolls about to scream in all caps in the comments, but hear me out first. I have no problem with connecting with people, either in real life or via the interwebs. Hell, that’s how a lot of my good friendships started. One random night at a city meeting, I tweeted at someone a few years back. They are now one of my best friends and I am one of his groomsmen in his upcoming wedding. So, I am not against that.
What I am against is when people send me a LinkedIn request when I have never met them, and they send no note or message attached with it. I am always suspicious when this happens. When I receive a request like this, I go through my following hitlist.
1.) Review the person’s profile
This is critical. You need to first make sure this person is not a fake account or someone trying to build a small LinkedIn army of connections. Do they have a presentable profile picture? What is their current work history and where do they work? Are they involved in any of the same activities and groups I am involved with? Are they from the same area I am from? These are important questions that you should ask before accepting a request.
2.) Check to see what mutual connections we have
This is usually a deal breaker for me. If I can see that this person is connected to a large number of my connections, then this is good, and usually I can reach out to any one of those connections to ask further questions. If there are little to no mutual connections I get a bit worried.
3.) Find out what they are posting, if anything
Usually the type of material that a person posts to LinkedIn allows me to make the decision on whether or not I want them as a connection. I am not wanting my feed on LinkedIn to be filled with motivational quotes or pictures of baby goats. I use LinkedIn as a professional networking social media platform. I try to post items that relate to professional matters or leadership. As for baby goats? That’s why I have Instagram and Facebook.
4.) Did they send a welcome message ?
This is the easiest thing a person can do when connecting with someone they do not know. Send a welcome message stating why you are wanting to connect with me. I am 87% more inclined to accept a request if it has the message, “Hello. We have not met before, but I am looking to connect with more young professionals or financial industry folks or UD grads or Dayton natives or people involved with Dayton Clubs or INSERT WHATEVER ELSE!” Guess what? This is a conversation starter. If you are truly looking to connect with me, then I will happily respond and say, “Thanks for reaching out! I am involved with XYZ. Are you free for coffee one day? Let’s connect in person and talk more.”
I learned a long time ago not to just connect with anyone on LinkedIn. The lesson was embarrassing, and I will never forget it. A client of mine reached out to me via LinkedIn and said that I was connected with someone she was trying to reach out to and get to know better to help with her business. She said the name, and I had no idea who it was. I had never met that person nor talked with them. I had to go back to the client and say, “I am sorry, but I am not sure who this person is or how I am connected to them.” For me it was very embarrassing. That is when I started screening my connections a bit further.
I think it is safe to say that I know about 90% of all the folks I am connected with on LinkedIn. When I reach out to connect with someone, it is usually to follow up from a recent networking event or because their cell number or email is in my contacts and that pulls up on LinkedIn.
So please, for the love of baby goats: stop sending invitations to people you don’t know -- or if you do, add a personal message to it!