Should I Accept Your LinkedIn Invitation?

Recently I accepted a full-time position with one of my clients, the Digital Advertising Alliance, which makes me particularly happy to have benefits again, but I sure will miss my daily freedoms from the past six years. Since I updated my LinkedIn profile, a plethora of people I do not know have reached out to me asking for LinkedIn invite acceptances—but not stating anything specific or particular in their request of me

Recently I accepted a full-time position with one of my clients, the Digital Advertising Alliance, which makes me particularly happy to have benefits again, but I sure will miss my daily freedoms from the past six years.

Thankfully, I get to maintain a small stable of freelance clients that keep me busy at night and on weekends, too. And I enjoy uncovering new business opportunities for myself or to steer potential business to trusted colleagues in my field. Other folks have done much the same for me, a virtuous circle.

Obtaining a new job is one business happening that “triggers” marketing events of one sort or another. While I haven’t made it yet to the C-suite (I can only imagine the triggers there), I’m getting my share of social check-in’s, emails, not-so-many telephone calls, and a direct mail piece or two.

Since I updated my LinkedIn profile, a plethora of people I do not know have reached out to me asking for LinkedIn invite acceptances—but not stating anything specific or particular in their request of me. Please, take a moment and give a short sentence stating what we have or could have in common. I’m a PR guy, and I genuinely like getting to know people and how we can build bridges and do business together … but I don’t want the quality of my social network to become watered down. I wonder if LinkedIn has relaxed its rules for enabling introductions.

My normal protocol in response is to visit his or her profile, and see if there’s an apparent fit to my professional life. Sometimes I discover it’s someone I do know with a new or different surname (and I readily accept), but most of the time it’s a complete stranger, with only imagined relevance. Is it me they’re after, my position that intrigues them, or my employer’s marketplace presence? It’s always good form to keep your own profiles edgy and up to date for the inspection of others—and your invites to the point.

Let me also state the opposite: I do feel some guilt dismissing online a complete stranger (but perhaps an industry cohort) because I wonder if I’m doing myself, my new employer and my existing social network a disservice. Shouldn’t I be willing to talk to a stranger—I do it all the time at tradeshows and industry gatherings (we’ve self-qualified each other by both being there)? Yes, I should be willing—but I don’t’ always feel the need to get a business card.

Recently, I came across these rules for accepting LinkedIn invites which I believe are worth sharing.

  1. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations if I have had the opportunity to work with you
  2. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations if we have met in person
  3. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations if we have spoken on the phone (and an in-person meeting is not feasible)
  4. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations to initiate a professional relationship where phone, online, and/or in-person collaboration is expected.
  5. My goal in every LinkedIn relationship is to be able to recommend your services to other professionals who trust my opinion.

I’ve built my network with rules one, two and three—which has allowed me to implement Rule 5. I’m admittedly not so quick on rule four, precisely because of Rule 5! The integrity of anyone’s social network is one’s ability to leverage it: quality before quantity.

As interconnectedness grows in our world and our field—all marketing is integrated, and my status as a PR professional informs marketing—I’m going to try and be more open to new faces online, but I will continue to insist on some due diligence. Otherwise, what’s the point in having a connection?

Feel free to post your own rules on social networking. Or offer an opposing point of view.

Author: Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably: A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing. Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of integrated marketing. He serves on the ANA International ECHO Awards Board of Governors, as an adviser to the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and is senior director, communications and industry relations, with the Digital Advertising Alliance. Chet loves UConn Basketball (men's and women's) and Nebraska Football (that's just men, at this point), too! 

3 thoughts on “Should I Accept Your LinkedIn Invitation?”

  1. I respond to generic invitations to connect with the following:

    “Thank you for your invitation to connect via LinkedIn. I am happy to do so; however, I have a policy of not connecting to generic LinkedIn invitations to avoid spambots. Please let me know how I can assist you or your firm. Best regards.”

    90% of the time I get no response. Guess that means they were spambots?!

  2. Hi Chet,

    I understand you completely and almost all the time I ask to connect, I try to add something personal and noteworthy as to why you might want to connect.

    When I don’t follow my own rule, it’s usually because the LI screen I’m seeking to connect from, due to LI’s programming, makes it impossible to add a couple of notes. My bad though for not going off the screen and searching your profile and asking to connect from that screen where I CAN add a note.

    Another rule I have learned, is not to give in to the desire to quickly endorse someone’s skills that LI likes to offer up to us. I only do that now from their profile to be sure that this person is highly endorsed by others for the same. I like to do this for associates who worked with me using a few of their many skills. Just because I said, for instance, I know about large format ink jetting doesn’t mean I want LI asking someone to endorse me for that.

    Lately, I’ve had at least 10 So. Asian career beginners ask me to connect, and I think, I couldn’t possibly help them and my network isn’t relative to their new careers and past studies. Maybe it’s something that’s being taught in grad schools???

    Your rules are great for what you want from your network, but sometimes I’m interested in raw names and connections of others to build out my local and industry specific network. There’s always workarounds to connecting with LI folks, and it’s not necessarily on LI. If I know someone personally or by reputation, I can always decide to recommend them, if I think my recommendation would carry any weight.

    Regards.

  3. My hard and fast rule is to always check out their profile. Incomplete profiles, especially one with no pic, are a turn off. I am also quicker to accept connections where we are in a LI group together, and if we have had some give and take there (or I like the quality of what they post) then I accept. I use the same criteria for when I invite others to connect. I only invite those who post helpful articles or leave relevant comments.

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