LinkedIn Connections and Generic Invites

LinkedIn Outdoor Banner I know many bloggers have an open connection policy, and that’s great for them, but I am generally more restrictive in who I connect with on LinkedIn. I prefer to connect with people who I could actually say something intelligent about if asked for an introduction. However, over the past few months, I’ve noticed an increase in invitations from people whose names I don’t recognize.  The majority of these invites use the generic boilerplate text (something like “I’d like to add you to my professional network”). Frankly, if you can’t be bothered to write one sentence to customize an invitation, you’re probably not a particularly beneficial connection to have.

When I get an invite from someone I don’t know, I sometimes reply with a message similar to the one below. I’m borrowing heavily from Scott Allen’s example in How to Politely Decline a LinkedIn Invitation, so give him all the credit for the idea and most of the actual text:

Thanks for inviting me to connect on LinkedIn. I would love to start a dialog, get to know each other, and find out how we might be of service to each other. Feel free to send me a message here through LinkedIn.

However, I do use LinkedIn as they recommend; I only accept invitations from people I know well professionally, and in most cases have actually worked with on some kind of project. I’m looking for conversations before connections. Generally, I interact with someone for several months before accepting or sending an invitation.

If you’re truly interested in a relationship and not just a link, I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Christy Tucker

My experience is similar to Scott’s; maybe 5% of people actually reply to a response like this.  As he aptly observes, “Makes me wonder how much value there could possibly have been in that link in the first place if they aren’t even willing to start a dialog and get to know anything about each other.”

I generally accept invites from people whose names I recognize from Twitter, #lrnchat, blogs, etc., even sometimes when boilerplate text is used. But if it’s a generic invite, you’re relying on my memory to immediately place the name, and I probably don’t always make the connection between a real name and a Twitter name. So please, if you’re going to send me an invite, please take the time to customize the message and remind me how I know you. And if I don’t know you, please start with a blog comment or some other communication rather than using the LinkedIn invite as the first contact. It’s not that I won’t connect with you ever, just that I’d like a conversation before an invitation.

What about you? Do you accept invitations from anyone, or do you filter them? Am I the only one with a pet peeve about generic invites, or do you find them irritating too?

Image Credit: LinkedIn Outdoor Banner (2007-0032 0002) by tychay

9 thoughts on “LinkedIn Connections and Generic Invites

  1. Thank you for this! I’ve been having this conundrum and so have just let many invitations from unidentified people sit in my LinkedIn inbox. Now I know how I can clean them out.

  2. Dear Christy,
    I very much like and am challenged by your approach. I get lazy. I forget where I have met people. I get confused. I am in some cross discipline environments (business/faith based/ learning/ iNGO/nternational development/ Spanish/English) so as long as there is a basic coherence from the profile I will accept invitations. I also unconnect if I find if anything is not as it seems.

    • Jim, what is the value for you out of the weak connections on LinkedIn? Part of my issue is that I struggle to see any reason to connect to people who I’ve never had a conversation with. When you accept those invites, does that start a conversation, or is your only interaction via the invite?

      I use LinkedIn a lot; I consider it one of my top tools for learning. But most of the learning happens in the groups. There’s no additional benefit for me or other people for connecting directly when we’re talking in groups, at least as far as learning is concerned. If I was a recruiter, I’d have a more aggressive connecting policy, but currently it just seems like those connections would water down the quality of my existing connections.

      But you obviously do feel a benefit, or you wouldn’t be reaching out to people to make those weak connections. What do you see is the value in those invites you send?

      • Dear Christy, The value is somewhat serendipidous. I chance upon an interesting thought or link. Like following on Twitter. I can only stand to drop in and visit but not keep it on. But in those short visits I am exposed to new things. I also realize I am in a stage of experimentation and observing myself as I learn. So I tend not to over analyze but want to see what happens.
        That being said I think you are further down the pipe in deciding what is helpful. I may yet get there.
        Thanks for your reply. If most were as willing to engage as yourself, I would try a much more focused approach.
        Jim

  3. Just stumbled on your blog and I find it very informative. Just wanted to add a thought about LinkedIn; their website use an algorithm to send invites to users unbeknownst to either side, FYI.

    I once received an invite and used a bit of sleuthing to track down a particular user. I discovered that we had worked for the same organization though our paths never crossed.

    I acquiesced to the request but added a question to the email inquiring as to why he was reaching out. He was surprised to see that an invitation was sent to my account as if “from him.”

    My suspicions were confirmed. A good amount of invitations sent out are done without the prior knowledge of the LinkedIn subscriber.

    • I don’t think LinkedIn is actually sending automatic invites. However, they do make it really easy to unintentionally send invites without even realizing you’ve done so. People who upload their email contact lists (which LinkedIn encourages you to do) often accidentally send hundreds of invites. A few stray clicks on the “People You May Know” page can also send out invites. I suspect from whom you received an invite made one of those errors without even realizing he had done so. That seems much more likely than LinkedIn sending invites on its own, which would really undermine its credibility.

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