LinkedIn is an important professional networking platform whether it is for business or career professionals. I’ve written 3 blog posts about this networking platform over the years and honestly thought I had covered my bases after my last post on LinkedIn Etiquette in the Social Media Etiquette series.
The one exception was touching the topic of LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index that was rolled out after my etiquette series which I covered in my January coaching teleclass. (This is now a bonus when you engage me for the Building Your Brand on LinkedIn service)
I guess I was wrong.
My LinkedIn Experience last week
Last week, I received a connection invitation from a stranger – the kind I wrote about in my post Networking Alert: How to connect on LinkedIn without Trusting Strangers, but worse.
The chap had not bothered to personalize the invitation, had an incomplete profile with an Andy Warhol type of profile picture, no connections or groups in common with me.
I’m guessing he was the anonymous profile viewer that week who hadn’t taken the time to read my profile till the end and literally went off the other end when I asked how we knew each other.
I was accused of needing an email address to connect when in fact there is no such restriction but yes, just so that you know, LinkedIn automatically activates this control if you receive ‘I don’t know this person’ alerts 5 times and can even restrict your account if there are too many complaints..
Given the fact that there are lots of fake profiles, scammers and spammers out there, my question was perfectly legitimate as I will explain later.
Just because you send an invite to someone to connect on LinkedIn or befriend on Facebook doesn’t mean that they are obliged to connect or make friends. Since I don’t like abusive people and wanted to put a stop to such behavior in future, I’ve become as blunt as a few of my other connections and like them, now clearly state in my advice to connect or contact section that I will ask questions with the request to be professional and not get abusive via LinkedIn Message. I’ve also marked that specific invite saying that I don’t know this person.
Maybe I should have asked ‘So What?’ and put him on the hot seat instead of being polite. I certainly don’t want to connect with a fellow who is rude, obnoxious, and disrespectful.
When we connect with professionals on LinkedIn, whether known or unknown to us, we give an implied endorsement within our network that we know the inviter and that it is okay for our known actively engaged connections to believe that this person is trustworthy and they can also connect with them.
But then I would have been out of integrity and not me. Instead, this chap is the Muse for my blog post about why I or anyone who takes their network seriously may not accept your LinkedIn connection request if you make any or all of the 9 mistakes that I am sharing in this post.
In many ways, this post is a continuation of the one I wrote in July 2014, Networking Alert: How to connect on LinkedIn without Trusting Strangers.
I’ve seen a lot of posts in LinkedIn publisher on this subject by LinkedIn experts and gurus so I guess I am not the only irritated person out there but have joined the growing majority who don’t want to be part of an online rolodex of people on the planet. We want to connect with real humans.
9 Reasons why your invitation to connect may not get accepted
In previous blog posts, I’ve given suggestions from your perspective on how to be a good networker on LinkedIn. Here are my top 9 from the perspective of the invitation receiver. It is understood that personalizing your connection request is a must and the tips that I gave in Are You the Missing Link on LinkedIn are essential.
Reason 1 – I don’t recognize your name
Maybe we have met in the past but memories do fade with time unless you did something so wonderful or so disgraceful that I have a solid reason to remember you. So if I ask you to jog my memory, don’t be offended. Just offer an explanation even if it means that we haven’t met but you want to connect having read my profile.
Reason 2 – There has been no interaction in the past
Maybe our paths haven’t crossed yet and now, the time is right for both of us to connect. There has to be a reason. The suggestion for 1 holds here too.
Reason 3 – Your LinkedIn Profile is a company name with a company logo
Or your profile is a company name with a person’s picture but there is no way that I can determine who you are because there is no other information. So what if you have 500+ connections? LIONs specialize in having thousands. You are leaving me clueless!
In fact I once wrote to one of these invitees to and the response was with a human name who I then asked to connect via the professional individual profile. I never got the human face invite so I guess that was that. If I want to connect with a company, I’ll follow them on their company page.
Reason 4 – Your profile is incomplete and key sections that should be completed aren’t
If you are a stranger, I will look at your profile to find some common ground to connect and if I can’t find anything, I will write to ask a few questions and if you don’t respond, I will decline the invitation. So please complete at least the portions that I have mentioned in my Missing Link post.
Reason 5 – You don’t have a profile photo and if you do, it is a small one with your car or dog or cat being more prominent and I can’t see your face
Or like I mentioned earlier you have the logo of your business. I agree that some people love their privacy and don’t post their profile photo. Quite a few of my former colleagues are guilty of that but then their professional reputations are such that we would know it is them. It is their conscious decision and they are not very active on LinkedIn anyway.
Make sure that your profile is complete enough for the other person to either recognize you or make them want to reach out and accept your connection request.
There is another reason why one has to proceed with caution in accepting faceless invites. It might be a fake profile with the intent to harvest information about you. More about this in the next reason- so keep reading!
Reason 6 – You’ve used a fake photo
I’ve seen this on Facebook as well and using the photograph of a celebrity will result in an immediate decline, especially if the rest of the profile is incomplete or inconsistent.
The best way to find out if a photo is fake is Google the name to see what images turn up. I’ve actually declined invites on this ground because it was clear that it was a fake or a potential spammer.
If you want to learn more about finding fake profiles, then these 2 articles that were published in December 2015 are a good starting point. They also share information about the technique of reverse image search on Google to determine if a profile is a fake.
Reason 7 – We have no common connections – not even 3rd degree or a group
This is a real red flag. It doesn’t mean I won’t connect with you, just that I will be more careful because there are lots of scammers and fake profiles out there whose sole purpose is to get connected with you to gain access to your email address and to your network.
My suggestion to anyone who genuinely wants to connect with someone outside of their network is to personalize their invitation. You won’t be able to do this from the People you may know section and perhaps not from your mobile. So better to do it from a desk top computer and directly from the profile of the person you want to connect with.
Reason 8 – Your first interaction with me is a Sales Pitch
That is a big no-no. Connecting with someone who may be a good target for your business or career progression is a first step. Nurturing the connection is the second step and then once you have built your credibility and trust factor, should you even consider pitching about your agenda.
Also refrain from sending mass sales emails where everyone can see everyone else. That is not professional.
This has happened twice with me on LinkedIn where junior Alumni requested to connect. The next email was a sales pitch to buy an Accounting Technician’s course that would help me get a job in USA. The brush down was immediate with a suggestion to look at my profile to see that firstly, I was holding a qualification that was at the top of the accounting education echelon and secondly, I had a new business.
One lady apologized, the other was thrown off my list but not before she had connected with 20 of my colleagues who had accepted her invitation via my profile.
This is what I mean by a tacit endorsement and yes, I’m more careful now. You can learn more about savvy networking on LinkedIn here.
The way I see it, if I don’t ask, I won’t get information and if someone really wants to connect then they shouldn’t mind a few questions.
Reason 9 – You lie about how you know me
Okay, so you want to justify a reason for connecting but remember, the other person is intelligent and may not realize it immediately, especially if their career is over a decade old but what happens when they do find out? Did it ever strike you that they will disconnect and maybe report you as Spam or worse?
Social media networking is all about transparency. If you build the right professional network, the doors can open for mutual benefit. But it means starting off on the right foot and your first step is to appear professional enough for the other person to want to accept your invitation.
Your turn – any LinkedIn connection peeves that have stopped you from accepting an invitation or are you happy to connect with people who are just a part of an online directory?
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