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A funny thing happened on the way to clicking the 'accept' button on LinkedIn.

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Sunday, May 04, 2014
Updated: Sunday, May 04, 2014

In mid-March I penned "Since You are a Person I Trust..." To Connect or Not To Connect on LinkedIn? that offered my two cents on what I see as the very impersonal 'networking spam' approach leveraged by many on LinkedIn. I equate it the person(s) I've run into at some networking events who fly through the room flicking business cards at everyone without the least bit of regard for those actually engaged in conversations. They don't even stop to offer a greeting, their goal is getting their business card in as many hands as possible. You've seen them before, right?

My response to the online version of this has been offering what I hope is perceived as a thoughtful message that asks those sending invites to help me understand how we might help one another. This response has been received with mixed results. Sometimes I receive no response and other times I receive a response that validates my approach and results in someone I actually connect with because there appears to be some common interest. Then there are the other responses.

Before I start in on this digital tirade, let me just say I'm stunned at the lack of generational divide in the area of common etiquette and what I see as plain old laziness on the part of more than a few. Is it that hard to take an extra twenty seconds to personalize the "Since you are a person I trust..." or "I'd like to add you to my professional network." message? If you're someone I don't know, that action (or lack of) tells me a lot about how you likely approach other things, personally and professionally. What can I say, first impressions are still important to me.

While I'm not surprised at some of the messages I receive from a number of younger professionals that include text message shorthand, no salutation, no closing, etc., the messages I receive from those in my generation and older are often of the same caliber and worse. When did so many forget how to conduct a conversation, in-person or online? It's actually pitiful. Has the quest for speed brought us to this? If we have never met or been introduced, I can assure you these sometimes illegible, most often impersonal and almost always unprofessional initial messages are not leaving me with an impression favorable to my doing anything with or for you beyond pushing the "ignore" button.

So back to the "other responses." Some of the responses I receive in response to my query include "Well if you have to ask me that question, perhaps we should not connect." and "I just want to connect, I'm not certain why you are asking my why." Those are verbatim responses I've received in the last few weeks.

I don't believe I'm a snob, but I'm also not an "open networker" willing to accept any and all invitations. Sorry, no time for that nor interest. Additionally, if you read my profile, I provide a good amount of information about who I am, what I do and what my interests are. I'm a pretty helpful guy (no pun intended) and if I can leverage my network to help you with something, I most often will if you make the effort to tell me HOW I might be able to help or WHY you want to connect with one of my contacts. If the person you are trying to reach isn't interested in the topic of your discussion (based on my knowing them or validating with them), I will tell you that so as not to waste your time, or theirs.

Here are my real questions. Does anyone actually read profiles? How about the "Advice for Contacting...?" section? Is there something difficult or foreign about offering a simple message that says why you would like to connect?

Apparently there is...


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Tags:  LinkedIn  networking  social networking 

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