An Open Letter To All 200+ Million LinkedIn Users: Correctly Invite Someone To Your Network

LinkedInDear LinkedIn and All LinkedIn Users,

I am writing to you today because of a problem that I am seeing occur more and more.  For me, the problem has become more pervasive, and more of a nuisance, over the past 24 months as I have tried to proactively grow my network, not only in size, but also in quality of people both inside and outside of the industries I am involved in.

I am concerned as now that LinkedIn has grown to over 200 million users, the problem is going to be more of an issue as more people get on LinkedIn and start to use it on a regular basis.  Maybe it is because no one has educated the masses of users.  Maybe it is because some have lost any sense of off line networking and do nothing but online social media based networking.  Maybe it is because some people are just plain rude.

The issue is simple: Sending a generic request to connect on LinkedIn.

Yes…that is the problem that I see.  But is it really a problem or am I just going a little crazy or being a little overly anal?  Well, lets see the numbers.

During the month of January 2013, I received 22 total request to connect.  Eight of the request said something to the effect of “I’d like to add you to my professional network” and nothing else, the generic request.  Only one of those eight contacted me separately and apologized for sending the generic request.  It was not his intention to do so, but he was still learning some of the aspects of LinkedIn.

Based on this sampling, nearly 32% of people cannot take 2 minutes to write a personalized email letting me know why I should connect up with them.  So in my head, can I conclude that 32% of people are lazy, apathetic, or both?  Do these 32% of people run their business or do their jobs in the same way?  I would hope not!

In addition to this, I have another 37 invites in my inbox that have asked me connect with them using the same generic email to connect with.  And honestly, I do not know what I should do with them.  Should I just accept all of them?  What about sending a message back asking why I should?  What about clicking the dreaded “Report Spam” button?  This question has vexed me since my first unknown connection request.

So how should you invite someone to be a  LinkedIn connection?  Write an email that gives the reason for wanting to connect.  If it is someone that you have met at a networking event, let them know where and maybe something about that event.  Even if it is someone you know well, be sure to spend more than the 5 seconds it takes to send off the generic email.  If it is someone you do not know or have not met, write out why they should connect with you.  Make sure that the email brings value to the person you are sending it to.  In my network, most of the people are individuals that I have met.  However, there is a group of people that I have not met, and likely will not because of geography and circumstances.  However, whoever sent the email stated why they wanted to connect took more than 5 seconds and showed the value in why they should be connecting.

In conclusion, when asking someone to connect with you on LinkedIn, please take the time to do it correctly.  It may be the difference in making the connection or not.

Respectfully submitted,

J. Nolfo
Avid LinkedIn User 

P.S.: So, is it just me or are others annoyed too?  How do you respond to the generic request?  Let me know.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “The Rhino Crash Blog…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

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About J. Nolfo
Well...there is a lot to know. #Cx, #Analytics, #SM, Specialty #AgChem, #StL sports, & more. FT @BASFAgProducts. @Mizzou Alum. Supporter of the #Rhino. Tweets my own. #SMMW17 attendee....Dad...Hiker...Scouter...and so much more.

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