When connecting with people you don’t know on LinkedIn – use your common sense

I have no problem with people I don’t know connecting with me on LinkedIn provided they are clear about why they want to do so.

What I absolutely don’t understand is why someone would send the standard LinkedIn message and expect a stranger to accept their invite. It’s actually quite a risky thing to do given that if five users state that they don’t know a person, the person’s account gets suspended. And while I don’t advocate doing that there are people out there advising their networks to do so.

So, what should you do if you want to connect to people you don’t know? 

  • Do your research. Take a look at their profile and think about why you want to connect with the person. And, more importantly, let them know why they should connect with you.
  • Send a personalised invitation to connect letting the person know how you came across them (in a group, in a search, through a contact etc) and why you would like to connect. It may be they share great content and you’d like to learn from them or you want to share ideas. Let the other person know what’s in it for them.
  • If the person you want to connect with is not in one of your groups, it can be tempting to say they are a friend rather than selecting ‘Other’. My advice is don’t! It’s really annoying getting invites from people who say they are your friend when you have never come across them. When you select ‘other’ you will need to input the person’s email address but if it’s someone you really want to connect with, I’d advise taking the time to do a google search to find out their email address – you can probably find a link to their website from their LinkedIn homepage. It shows you are honest and that you’re not just trying to randomly grow your number of connections.
A friend of mine, Natalie Sisson, also blogged on social media mistakes people make last week. This was one of the things on her list – I recommend you read her full list. 
What other advice would you give to people wanting to connect with those they don’t know on LinkedIn? 
Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant
  • Casey J Press

    Love this, Kirsten! You and Natalie addressed my concerns and broke what was a newly developing habit of falling into the “boiler plate” connection trap on LinkedIn. I was following what appears to be the norm on LinkedIn instead of following my better judgment. Thank you for the kick in the butt. I really appreciate you sharing Natalie’s post. She tells it like it is, no-holds-barred. Y’all hit the nail on the head.

    • http://kscopemarketing.wordpress.com Kirsten Hodgson

      No problem Casey – glad we’ve given you a kick in the butt! Nat does tell it like it is and provides some great tips. I’d recommend following her.

      I have had a couple of instances of people accepting invites that I didn’t knowingly send. I think there is a button you can hit (or some other very simple thing) which sends a generic invite without you seeing the invite screen (I suspect its to do with hitting something when you are hovering over a person’s photo in LinkedIn). I’m still trying to work it out so I can warn others as it’s not a good thing! If anyone else has come across this and worked it out, please let me know.

  • http://theattitudequeen.wordpress.com/ Claire Takacs

    Thank you for this Kristen.
    I don’t feel so paraniod now – I tend to be very fussy about my connections, hence I don’t have very many yet. I agree with having personal messages on the invites – I use them even with people I know well. If I get an invite from someone I don’t know I check their profile, google them to check who they are and do a bit more research as well to ascertain if they are someone I want to be connected to. I had an invite from a man in a distant country who I had emailed once a few months previously to get information on his tour services but never hired him. I declined the invite. I haven’t yet had any problem with a generic invite. I’ll be mindful of hovering over pics now.

    • http://kscopemarketing.wordpress.com Kirsten Hodgson

      Hi Claire – I really like your approach. Everyone has to make their own decision about who they do/don’t want to connect to and researching the person to find out if you want to connect to them makes total sense.
      Don’t worry too much about the hovering – it’s probably just me!