I often have people asking me about the proper protocol for accepting LinkedIn invitations. It's a quandary many of us are in. I've been asked twice in the last 24 hours how best to handle this. It's not a new issue. There are a multitude of posts on the topic. And yet, we continue to receive unsolicited invitations from people we haven't met.
Here's what happens from the receiving end. I open LinkedIn and notice one (or two or three) new invitations. "Oh goodie", I think, "someone wants to connect. I wonder who it is." I open up my invitations and don't recognize any of the people there. "Hmm, I wonder why they want to connect", I say to myself. So, I open the message, and am disappointed to see the standard "I want to add you to my LinkedIn network" message. "Ok, then let's look to see who our common connections are, maybe that will help." At this point, there may be one or two common connections, but they are distant connections. So, what do I do? Do I accept? Decline?
I try to review their profile to glean some reason the person wants to connect. Sometimes I can see why they've connected. Other times, it's the barest of profiles, no picture, no groups, very little profile information. This is when I have the most struggle. I want to reach out and ask their interest in connecting but can't communicate directly unless I accept. Well, here's why I wouldn't connect. A few of the times I've connected with someone I don't know and who shows no indication we have anything in common. First, I accept. And, BOOM!, within an hour, I receive some email soliciting me for something. Well, thanks very much, but I am on LinkedIn for professional networking, and yes, to promote my work. I'll be honest about that. But never, and I mean NEVER, would I use LinkedIn to write unsolicited mails to people on the pretense of wanting to 'connect', when by 'connect' I really mean 'sell my goods/services'.
So, herein lies the problem. On some pages, where LinkedIn is suggesting connections, when you click on that person, an automatic email is sent. Maybe you don't do that on purpose, but here is a better solution. If you find someone interesting, and want to connect, simply go to their profile. Once there, click on the Connect button, and send a note telling the person why you are reaching out and what your interest is. You're far more likely to have your invitation accepted.
As a rule, I don't accept invitations from people I don't know. I'm sorry. I have worked extremely hard to have the network I have and I value the quality of those connections. And most days I don't have the time to spend trying to decipher the reason for your invitation. If your wish to connect is sincere, simply write and tell me why. I'm far more likely to accept.
So, if your invitations are ignored, take note and give this a try. I'll bet your acceptance rate increases significantly! Good luck and keep networking.
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