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Posted: December 13, 2011

A LinkedIn lament

Who are all these people?

Ann Spoor

I recently posted this update on my LinkedIn: "If you want to connect to someone you don't know, don't use the auto-populate message. Tell me why you want to connect and personalize it. Give me a reason to say yes."

I actually posted it twice because I wasn't sure people saw it. It then occurred to me that the people I wanted to see it weren't in my network, so they aren't going to see my updates.

I continually get requests to connect from people I don't know. They indicate they are "Friends" but we both know that isn't true.

I make my email address very easy to find so this isn't an impediment. I want to connect and build my network. I want to help others build theirs. I am selective about saying yes.

No matter what box someone checks though, I hate getting the auto populated message that LinkedIn provides. Did I say hate? Yes, I HATE it. It shows me that you have nothing more to say, you don't take an extra 20 seconds to introduce yourself, you just want to take advantage of my network.

Here's an analogy: Imagine someone walking up to you at a cocktail party, and rather than saying hello, shaking your hand and introducing themselves, they reach into your pocket/purse and take your wallet. Yes, that may be a bit of a stretch, but it makes sense, doesn't it?

So, slow down. Give me a reason to accept your invitation. Maybe, just maybe, there is a relationship to be built and cultivated.

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Ann Spoor is the Jerry McGuire to Corporate Executives and Professionals. She is the founder and CEO of Executive Lattice www.executivelattice.com Ann is an Executive Talent Agent, Executive Coach, Career Manager, Executive Branding Expert, and Social Media Coach. She lives in Denver with her husband Mark and their two kids.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Granted it's a good idea for people to indicate why they might want to connect. I also think it depends on the focus of your business and your business goals. One of my goals is to provide avenues for business owners to connect to other business owners and business opportunities. I have many connecting with me on a daily basis that I do not know. I do not find it intrusive etc. or as you say "hate". We have to be able to balance between connecting with everyone and having NO real connections with building our connections that will build each others businesses at the same time being a resource for others--even though we might not have ever nor will ever meet them. Effective business networking begins on LinkedIn but reaches its' full potential with phone or direct face to face contact. I also think many people are still in the "learning" phase of utilizing LinkedIn as a way of connecting---and I keep in mind that when someone does something that appears inappropriate ---it may be because of simple "lack of knowledge" for example: folks asking for recommendations when I have not done business with them. This provides me with an opportunity to gently "coach" them and through this process--the win for them ---they now know how to use LI more effectively--the win for me..increased credibility. By Sharon Shores, Social Media-Business Consultant on 2011 12 30
Misha, I think you missed the point. What we're saying is that "connecting" means more than checking an "accept" box on a request from someone you don't even know. I have LinkedIn with people I didn't know, when they bother to take the time to tell me who they are and why they'd like to connect with me. Sending invites to people you haven't met without giving them that courtesy is just spam. By Monica Hahn on 2011 12 24
You are a "talent agent" and you don't want to connect with people?? Well as a recruiter I want to connect most everyone, with exceptions, though I do like some intro. Funny article, your gripe doesn't make. Isn't that the point of using Linkedin? By mischa on 2011 12 24
Thanks all for your comments! This definitely touched a nerve. By Ann Spoor on 2011 12 15
Ann, good article. As most of the other respondents stated, receiving invites from an unfamiliar soul can be annoying. What I don't get is when folks make a connection, and then make their contacts unavailable, or limited. Cultivating relationships, networks is a two-way street. It has gotten to the point that recently I decided to post on my profile the disclaimer "Please do not extend an invite, if reciprocity is not part of your agenda." By Al Scott on 2011 12 14
Hi Ann - You have touched on a new "social" lighting rod called "cold-friending" - Yes, the ugly staple of sales folks everywhere(cold-calling)now has a new sibling. I don't know if sales folks (selling themselves or a product) will ever back off - If they gain 2 or 3 contacts after a hundred pokes/invites - that would qualify as a success & lead to a continuation of the behavior. Sorry, but I think it's here to stay - I'm still hopeful that many will simply choose not to play that way. By Chase LeBlanc on 2011 12 13
Great article, Ann. I get the same thing. I accept all invites (from a real person, not from a company or fake profile), but also get annoyed when I get LinkedIn's "canned invitation. It is a sign of extreme laziness not take a minute to drop me a line to tell me why you want to connect. I have a beef with LinkedIn, though. I really wish they'd let someone say MORE in the invitation, so I could explain a little further why I am interested in connecting with someone. Their word limit is little absurd. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 12 13
Ann, I didn't have time to read your article, but would you "Like me" on my Facebook page, ... then send me your credit cards? Kidding, thanks for your article; sometimes I write to the people who send me the canned LinkedIn message and query "I am sorry, but I don't remember how we met or developed a friendship, would you please enlighten me?" Some people have fessed up, provided a good reason to connect and we have built a relationship, others have retreated into their unscrupulous hole. (Yes, I find these people offensive.) By TC North on 2011 12 13
Great post! I always tell people it's a good idea to say "why" they want to connect. Even if I just met someone yesterday I may not remember them. So, it's good to jog my memory - and use it as a way to mention again something we talked about. It's too bad that LinkedIn even offers the "auto respond" info. Would make it much better if everyone was forced to write a sentence or two. By Deb Krier on 2011 12 13
I agree completely with your article. It's so easy to remind me of where/when/if we met by adding a simple line of information to the LinkedIn invitation to connect! I think many people consider LinkedIn to be the business equivalent of Facebook, where the goal seems to be "friending" as many people as possible. It shows a significant gap in their understanding of the difference between effective business networking and updating everyone on the planet about the new boots you bought yesterday. By Sandy Martin on 2011 12 13
Thanks Ann. My take on this issue is that the people who see the wisdom of what you are saying already know to write a line or two to establish a relationship before asking to link up. They would do this regardless. The folks who won't take the time to introduce themselves -- well probably most will not alter their behavior if they read this. Finally, I would love to be proven wrong about my observation. By Stephen Koenigsberg on 2011 12 13
So right, Ann. It's just plain rude. By Monica Hahn on 2011 12 13

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