It happens every day. Someone you don’t know sends you an invitation to connect on LinkedIn and the invitation usually has only the default wording, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” She doesn’t personalize it and tell you who she is, and you wonder “why?”
To be fair, a lot of people don’t realize they’re doing it wrong. They hit the blue “CONNECT” prompt in the “People You May Know” section, and it immediately sends the invitation. Or they send the invite from their smartphone or tablet. LinkedIn apps don’t have the capability to personalize the invitation.
Now you have to decide. Does this person meet your connection strategy of growing your network? If you don’t have a strategy, ask yourself, “Will he be an asset or a liability to my connections and me?”
The only way you’re going to know is by taking the time to look at his profile. Look for common ground in his experience, education, interests and groups. Pay special attention to his summary.
You now have three options: “Accept,” “Reply (but don’t accept yet)” and “Ignore.” If you chose “Ignore,” you have two more: “I don’t know xyz” and “Spam.” Clicking either of these two could cause the person to have his or her account suspended.
Reply (but don’t accept yet) is your chance to push back. It’s in the drop down arrow next to “Accept.” A message box opens, and you can send her a note. Ask her nicely WHY she wants to connect, how she may know you and anything else you want to know to help you make your decision. Example:
“Thank you for your invitation to connect. Before I accept, I’m curious to know why you invited me to connect, especially since we haven’t met. It’s my policy to connect when I know your intentions and can be a good advocate and connector for you. I look forward to hearing from you.”
You’ll know if the person is serious about connecting by his response. Give him a few weeks to respond and if he doesn’t, feel free to click “Ignore.”
Sue Gresham is a LinkedIn trainer and coach and the owner of Innovative Client Solutions in Pewaukee.