LinkedIn is an outstanding service. I was one of the very early adopters (#388,931 out of 100,000,000+ – you can find out how early you adopted LinkedIn HERE) and have really enjoyed the resource, going on and off of various paid/free account types throughout the years. You can even see who is reviewing your profile via the Who’s Viewed Your Profile? feature (paid only) which is both helpful and transparent, unlike some other sites.
Connections are the core of a LinkedIn. The more you have, the wider your reach in the professional world. Connections are made through invitations to connect and, for better or for worse, I get a LOT of unsolicited invites. Anywhere between 5 and 20 per week. These invites come from professional groups, networking groups, or people looking to connect.
In addition to industry or professional interest groups, LinkedIn has many networking groups based on helping users bolster their connection base. They are often called LinkedIn Open Networkers (or LION) and are members who encourage connections from members, whether or not they have had a previous business relationship (more on this from Wikipedia if you are interested). There is a general rule among these groups to accept all invited and never IDK (acronym for I Don’t Know – which is a way of flagging invites from unknown people as LinkedIn’s version of SPAM). This is obviously a bad idea, but is the norm among LinkedIn users.
There was a period when I accepted all invites and even (briefly) tested membership of a LION group. No longer. What happened? There was one unsavory character who wasted inordinate amounts of my time. This guy is an ex-convict/felon who through a series of name changes and reinvention gave the appearance of a legit person. A very legit person. So much so that he convinced some high-ranking executives that he was legit and these C-level executives wrote glowing reviews for him despite never meeting him. I believed them, met with the guy, and like I said, it was a huge waste of time. Though nothing terrible happened, it is an event I need to shield myself from in the future.
Now, when I receive an invite from an unknown professional, I reply with a rejection letter saying that unless I know you, you attended an alma mater of mine, or want to talk about a job opportunity or professional topic, I will not accept your request (I have included the form letter at the end of this post).
What happens when I respond with this rejection letter? Nearly 50% of the unsolicited invites turn into discussions and have developed into a worthwhile professional relationship as opposed to another number in my profile.
There are 2 main takeaways from this post:
- saying no to an unsolicited LinkedIn request may open up a genuine dialogue which will in turn give you a chance to actually test a potential professional contact.
- do not ever accept an invitation or recommendation from someone you do not know.
I know this is basic and reeks of common sense, but it is a lot easier to just accept or reject invites than vetting them. Any thoughts?
My LinkedIn Rejection Letter——————————–
Thanks for your invite but I no longer accept unsolicited invites unless they meet one of the following criteria:
- employment inquiry
- want to talk about a professional topic
- you work in the recruitment/headhunter/search sector
- you are an alum of Syracuse University or American University
- you are a colleague (current or former)
- you are someone I have personally met
If you would like to know why I no longer accept unsolicited invites, I am happy to provide details. Essentially, there have been one too many unsavory characters that have wasted inordinate amounts of my time. The worst being an ex-convict/felon who through a series of name changes and reinventions gave the appearance of a legit individual. A very legit individual. So much so that he convinced some high ranking executives that he was legit and these C-level executives wrote glowing reviews for him despite never meeting him. Though nothing terrible happened, it is an event I need to shield myself from in the future.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me for follow up if you have any questions or if you want to talk about a professional topic.
Best of luck,