Last week I finished up a corporate training and a senior manager chimed in to get my thoughts about LinkedIn introductions. Specifically what I thought about receiving invitations to connect from people I didn’t know.
I get that question a lot.
Before I could answer, he shared that he had never given much thought about accepting them and had but now after my training he was wondering if adding tons of strangers to his network was such a good idea.
Glad I got him thinking. I tried to suppress my smile and avoided altogether my strong urge to pat my own back.
Everyone seemed very interested in the question. I assume because like me, they receive tons of unsolicited requests to connect via LinkedIn and like him, most have blindly accepted.
Here is what I shared.
I don’t accept blind LinkedIn invitations to connect and here’s why. My network and the connections I’ve worked hard to develop are simply too important to me to expose to someone who may or may not have ill intentions. True you can hide your network but the point of a system like LI is that you use that network to cultivate and build connections amongst people IN your network. Hiding those connections from view of those you’ve accepted into your network sort of defeats the purpose. After all you never know if one connection could benefit someone else in your network in some way right?
However when you blindly accept just any Tom, Dick or Harry into your network you put those connections at risk. You never know if that person will go behind your back to reach out to your people to sell them the latest vitamin or MLM scam. I’ve seen it happen where people allow these marketing/salespeople into their network and have no idea. Then this person reaches out to an important business contact and outright lies to them. For example, “Hi Sir Richard Branson, Steve Harper suggested you might be really interested in this new investment opportunity I am representing. He said you would love to talk to me.”
Queue that sound they used to play in cartoons when the bomb is falling from the sky and explodes. It did explode…all over your great connection.
The damage is irreparable to both you and the relationship you once had with that important connection. And what’s worse, you may never know it happened.
Now to be fair, I don’t have Sir Richard in my network, though I would love to. But you could image the same exact scenario happening with your client, your boss or worse, your significant other’s boss.
It’s simply not worth it.
Your network should be comprised of people you know, like and want to cultivate and build a relationship with. Everyone else can connect with you on Facebook or half a dozen other social platforms right? But your LinkedIn is really the only place you can manage your business connections and build real valuable business relationships. Don’t risk that just because you don’t know how to not accept an invitation or fear being perceived as rude. Better for that to be the case than to blow up a promising relationship with some over eager dipwad that has no idea the carnage she is creating by lying to your connections.
Back to my senior leader for a moment. As I explained that situation in a bit greater detail and suggested this scenario perhaps playing out with one of his most important connections, say the CEO of his own company, the point really began to sink in. Actually talk about panic, not only in his face, but the face of several in the room.
I explained for every invitation I receive to connect I ask the person straight up how we know one another? When they respond with we don’t but my profile looks interesting, I explain I reserve my network only for people I have an established personal or professional business relationship with. I thank them for the invitation to connect and suggest we synch up on Facebook as a “first step”. It’s amazing how many people never respond to that. It’s obvious the gig is up at that point which is pretty funny.
I am not sure what your philosophy is on this matter but I would love to know. Please leave a comment here or drop me an email.
In the mean time, thanks for reading and as always…