Have you experienced an increase in LinkedIn traffic? I’ve been hit with a spate of “join my network” invitations lately. Frankly, I don’t like it. While LinkedIn is a social media tool, it’s not designed for open networking. Mostly, I don’t know the people contacting me. Depending on my mood, I’ll just click on the “I don’t know this person” button. More often, I’ll write to the sender explaining my reasons for refusing the invitation. Last week I got a snide reply back accusing me of not understanding how to network. I think it’s time to explain my position on LinkedIn more clearly.
First of all, this is what LinkedIn advises about connecting with people:
Only accept an invitation if you know the sender and want them in your network.
Accept invitations when:
- You want to stay in touch with the inviter
- You know and trust their judgment and expertise
- You’ve worked with them and would recommend them
- They know your work and can represent your potential
Do not accept invitations when:
You don’t know the sender well
(consider replying or deciding later)
If you don’t know the sender at all, click on the “I don’t know” button or “Report as spam”
Sensible advice, don’t you think? I follow it. My LinkedIn network consists of people I know personally. I’ve worked with most of them. I feel an obligation to protect the integrity of my network as much for their sake as mine. To that end, these are the reasons why I’m going to refuse an invitation:
1) LinkedIn is a professional network, not a social network. My connections span many industries and locations. It was built through hard work and a lot of sweat equity.
2) I have an obligation to the people in my network. When I add another person, it’s a tacit endorsement of his or her credentials.
3) LinkedIn is not a popularity contest involving who has the most fans or followers. It’s meant to represent a trusted group of people personal to me and my experiences.
4) The LinkedIn Groups provide an opportunity for open networking. I’m active in the groups and accept communication from other members. It doesn’t mean, however, I’m going to be comfortable including all those people into my personal network. It does happen once in awhile, but not often.
5) If the invitation doesn’t have any specific information as to why you want to connect with me AND I don’t know you, I will refuse the connection every time. When I extend invitations, I always write at least one sentence explaining my motivation for the connection.
6) I’m not looking for a job, I’m not looking to hire anyone and I don’t want to purchase a property so Real Estate Agents, Recruiters, and H.R. people are not going to have success inviting me to join their network.
As with any list of rules, there are exceptions to accepting invitations from people I don’t know.
1) I’m always open to potential business opportunities as long as they’re qualified. I do have a couple of people whom I have never worked with, but it’s only because the right opportunity hasn’t presented itself yet.
2) I have met people in other social media channels and included them in my LinkedIn network even though I’ve never met them in person. If I’ve been communicating with someone in a different medium, over time I will definitely consider adding them to my LinkedIn network.
LinkedIn is my professional network, anchored by my curriculum vitae (resume). I’m not interested in helping total strangers grow their own network on the back of my hard work. If you don’t know me and we have no potential business dealings, I’m the wrong person to invite to your LinkedIn party. I’m not about to be snide to people, but I’m not going to feel pressured to open my network, either.
What rules do you have about LinkedIn connections?