I am a huge fan and user of LinkedIn. I joined the platform over 10 years ago and I use it every day as a research and communication tool. I also get several invitations a day from people wanting me to add them as one of my connections. Truth be told, I decline most of these invitations for one of several reasons. I used to take the time to message people back and explain why I was declining their invitation to “connect” but this has become too time-consuming so I’ve decided to explain my reasons in this blog post instead.
What follows is going to piss some people off. From my perspective this is about using a business tool in the correct way. LinkedIn is not Facebook, it’s not Twitter, and it’s not email. You are free to develop your own rules for who you accept or reject as connections on LinkedIn. These are mine, love ‘em or hate ‘em.
I do firmly believe that if you avoid making the following LinkedIn “connect” mistakes that the likelihood of other people – not just me – accepting your invitations will dramatically increase. Try it out and let me know what happens.
You are probably also wondering why I seem to be so picky about which LinkedIn invitations I accept. It’s because I believe that if I accept someone as one of my LinkedIn connections it’s an implied endorsement by me of that person. By adding someone to my connections list, I’m essentially saying that I know this person and vouch for the fact they are legitimate and worthy of your attention.
So here we go, my never-before-revealed reasons for not accepting your LinkedIn invite:
- I don’t recognize your name – I may not have a perfect memory, far from it in fact, but if I don’t recognize your name that’s going to make me immediately less motivated to accept your invitation. If we’ve met before but it’s been a while, you’d be wise to mention that in your invitation message to me. (More on that all-important invitation message in a moment.)
- We’ve never interacted in the past – This goes hand-in-hand with me not recognizing your name. If I haven’t ever met you before in person, or at least interacted with you in some way, the chances of me adding you as a connection are slim. If we have met before, remind me of when and where.
- You don’t have a profile photo – This is a deal breaker for me. If you haven’t even bothered to upload a photo to your LinkedIn profile, I’m not going to accept your invite. Would you show up at a business networking event wearing a paper bag over your head? Of course not. So don’t show up on LinkedIn without a profile photo.
- Your profile picture is not a photo – Sometimes people like to get ‘creative’ and use an illustration or random piece of artwork as their profile photo. This might be appropriate for your avatar on Facebook or some gaming platform, but LinkedIn is a business tool and I’m not going to connect with a cartoon illustration.
- Your photo is obviously a fake – I can smell a fake LinkedIn profile a mile way, or at least a bogus photo, and there are lots of them out there. The dead giveaway to me is when the photo looks like it was ripped from a stock photo site or a fashion model portfolio site. If your photo is either too generic or too sexy don’t expect me to accept your invite.
- We don’t share any common connections – I have 500+ LinkedIn connections around the world that I have built up over the last 10 years. If we don’t share a single common connection that’s a potential red flag to me. It doesn’t mean I won’t add you as a connection since I’m not opposed to meeting new people, but I’m going to need to better understand from you why someone with zero current ties to me or anyone else in my professional network is a good candidate as one of my valued LinkedIn connections.
- Your LinkedIn profile has no details or is vague – Unless I know you really well, I’m going to review your LinkedIn profile to see who it is that’s asking to connect with me. If your profile is light on details and doesn’t tell me what you do for a living and where you work, I’m probably not going to accept your invitation to connect.
- Your invite message is generic – If we’re not already familiar with one another and you want me to take your connection request seriously, take a minute to customize your LinkedIn invite message. For instance, tell me where we met or how we know each other or why we should know each other. Give me a reason to accept your invite. A monkey can click on a big blue LinkedIn “invite” button. Real people take the time to craft a brief but personal message.
- Your invite message is a sales pitch of some kind – If your invite message and first contact with me is a sales pitch, not only am I going to ignore your invite but I will also report your message as spam. Behaviour like this is the equivalent of that annoying guy at business events who interrupts your conversation with someone else to thrust his business card into your hand. Take a hike buddy!
- Your LinkedIn profile is the name of your company and not you – I don’t accept invites from company names or Websites. Why would I? I am only interested in connecting with people.
I realize the above rejection reasons may seem rather harsh, and despite all of the above I do try to give everyone the benefit of a doubt. If anything – and despite appearances to the contrary – I’ve softened my stance over the years. I also respect the fact that your criteria for accepting a LinkedIn connection invite may be looser than mine. I would argue, however, that if you let anyone with a pulse “connect” with you on LinkedIn you are probably missing a critical component of this powerful business tool. What’s the value to you or anyone else if your LinkedIn connections are a bunch of random strangers (some of whom might be bots and not even real people) that you blindly accepted invitations from?
Domain name expert Bill Sweetman is the President & Lead Ninja of Name Ninja, a boutique domain name consulting firm that helps companies acquire, manage, protect, and profit from their domain names. Bill has provided strategic domain name advice to major companies around the world for over 20 years.
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