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.
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?