My LinkedIn Policy, Revisited

First, second, 45th most – to each, his or her own. We all have our way of using, doing, being social. Online and off. This be mine.

Like a robo-call from telemarketing hell, the LinkedIn Request from a total stranger

While they aren’t always a deal breaker for me, I really truly don’t care for the generic LinkedIn invite. [I know the mobile apps don’t let you customize. Made that mistake, am now careful to go to the web for connecting as I’m in the camp that I customize my invites. Always.]

tumblr_mivvfqP9w81r9pgsuo1_1280Generic, random LinkedIn requests are cold, impersonal, unprofessional, lazy, annoying.

I’m not so in-demand that I just block and ignore these. I reply. Some variation of a professional and courteous, “Thanks for asking. I prefer to connect with people I’ve worked with or know from online. Could you please tell me where and when we’ve crossed paths? Why you want to network? All the best.”

5 types of LinkedIn Responses I get back:

  1. Crickets. Seriously, think almost half my invite replies are ignored. Someone just racking up numbers, no desire to truly connect.
  2. The Offended Troll. More than a few times, I’ve had a poorly capitalized, terribly spelled rambling rant of a reply from someone hella pissed off at the notion that while I am on LinkedIn to network, I don’t treat it as a free for all.
  3. The Overly-Aggressive Power Networker. They’re scary serious. They want that connection, because they’d be great for you and ‘hey it’s all good.’ And while you’re already taking, follow them on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, subscribe to their e-crap and buy everything they’ve shared on Pinterest like NOW.
  4. The Overly-Eager Flirt. Doesn’t happen that often, but I’ve gotten requests from those less interested in business than they are “meeting people” that are attractive and “couldn’t we just text or SnapChat?” My latest really didn’t know when to take NO for an answer.
  5. A Real Answer. Rare. Sometimes we have bumped into each other on a chat or a blog and I just don’t make the connection. Sometimes they just got a suggestion from someone else or shockingly, even read a post or tweet of mine. If there’s a legit reason to connect, I do. If I’m unsure, I invite them to follow me elsewhere and offer to do the same.

Who do I think I am to have a policy? Why am I networking?!

It’s not a competition, not about the vanity metrics. In the 3.5 years since I first blogged about not connecting with strangers on LinkedIn – and hot damn I. Am. Old. – I’ve seen people throw open the flood gates and I’ve watched people walk away all together.

I’ve also lived and learned. The few times I ignored my better angels and accepted, it’s inevitably opened my email and network to hard sales pitches, requests to buy or subscribe, and/or please ask everyone I’ve ever met to do something. Broadcast blasts. Job begging*. Hey, come out for a drink and why we’re meeting, BUY.

That’s not business. That’s not relationship building or networking. It’s spam. It’s bullshit.

If you’re reading this, odds are you have a similar LinkedIn policy. If not, why not?

*It’s coming. I’m gonna be reaching out to my network soon but when I do, believe me I’ll have something of value to offer you, not just another ‘hey, I need a job’ e-blast.

Photo credit: LOVE the Tumblr for Honest Slogans

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4 thoughts on “My LinkedIn Policy, Revisited

  1. Hi Davina,

    I really like the way you think. I will say I haven’t spent much time building my network on Linked In. My clients just aren’t there. I realize as I continue to grow and evolve that it would be beneficial to get on Linked In and figure out how I can be of value on the network and get some value of my own.

    I really like how you laid out your policy of connecting to really connect. Thanks for the insight.

    Kim Yuhl recently posted..How to Write A Headline in Seconds Using Headline Formulas

    1. Thanks Kim. It’s really all about your contacts, your network – where your peeps are and how you can attract and help THEM. Maybe it’s LI, maybe it’s somewhere else you get the best return.

      My policy is as much about professional courtesy as it is social media. You’d never ask someone you’d just met at a trade show or conference for a recommendation or referral or instant sale… so why would you do so online? Thanks again.

  2. I don’t get hit on as much as you do, but most of your observations are similar to mine. I also get a big contingent of “recent grads” from various PR programs who tell me (outright when I ask) that they want to connect so I can help them find a suitable job….

    For those people you made a mistake about accepting, remember you can always send them a “cease and desist” LinkedIn (or IRL) email. Alternatively, you can quietly “unlink” the person from your network. I’ve done both of these things.

    Although it isn’t sexy, I still consider LinkedIn my most important “professional” social network. Generally it’s the last (of a few) places I connect with “new” people. Definitely I have to know them in some fashion. Or, they have to suitably flatter me in a non-requesting kind of way.
    Judy Gombita recently posted..Making sense of the impact of social media on crisis communication

    1. Many professionals see it that way, Judy – LI really isn’t like other networks, it’s not the same ‘social’ behavior. Why someone can’t take 10 minutes to follow me elsewhere, read a blog, do something by way of introduction, I don’t understand. Or rather I do understand – and that’s why I decline. (And yeah, sure there will come a time when I unconnect on LI, thanks for the reminder.)

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