I was recently taken by a LinkedIn group discussion that asked users about their criteria for accepting a LinkedIn invitation. It was one of those instances in which I only became consciously aware that I did have a standard process when I was asked the question.
So here’s my six-step LinkedIn invitation filter:
1 – Do I know them or have I met them?
If I recognise the person as someone I have worked with in the past or have met at an event – and crucially if I liked them – I’ll accept the invitation without question. In fact, more often than not I’m likely to have already sent them an invitation myself.
2 – Have they checked my profile?
If the invitation has come from someone who doesn’t know me and hasn’t bothered to check my profile I can be pretty sure I’m part of some desperate invitation blast and I’ll ignore it.
3 – Is there a logical fit? (aka Are their intentions honourable?)
Has the invitation come from someone I think I can help (and I don’t necessarily mean commercially, although that’s always nice) or someone who can help me?
One tricky area for me is recruiters. As I offer marketing services for recruitment firms there’s value in linking up with recruitment firms. On the other hand many individual recruiters will connect in order to extend their network of potential candidates. I like most recruiters but I tend to judge this on a case by case basis.
4 – Is the invitation personalised?
You’ve probably noticed when you check out the “Who’s viewed your profile” section you get a few suggestions along the lines of “Add Anton Valdaz to grow your network and get found for more opportunities”.Too many people simply click the “Connect” button beneath this recommendation. LinkedIn automatically sends out the bog standard LinkedIn invitation and the follower collector hopes for the best.
Others find profile they like and click on the connect button at which point they are offered a standard message they can edit. So inspired and motivated are these people about the opportunity to connect they cannot spend two minutes telling me why.
However, if the note is personalised and explains why they want to connect I’ll usually accept.
5 – Will they respond to a polite question?
I won’t immediately ignore someone who fails to put their invitation into context unless a quick profile check reveals them clearly to be a potential spammer or fraudulent account (sadly there are lots out there).I usually send a note along the following lines: “Thank you for your invitation to connect. As I’m not sure we’ve met it would be good to know how I can help.”
I don’t think that’s too offensive, do you? Some people have been a little affronted. A couple have explained but most people simply fail to reply – which tells me all I need to know about their intentions and motivations.
6 – I’m not afraid of unlinking / unfollowing / decoupling
A guy who makes videos asked me to link up the other day and, as I thought his services looked good and might be of interest to my clients, I accepted. The next day I received a promotional email from him; and the next and the next. At that point I blocked his email account and quietly disconnected.
If I think someone is exploiting their link with me, if I find their personal posts too promotional (or better suited to Facebook – a really irritating recent trend) I’ll also sever our connection.
So those are my rules; what are yours?