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What To Do When You Get a LinkedIn Request From a Stranger


Robby

Technology is changing all the time. We’re using social networks today, but most of us remember a time when the only way to socialize was to do so face-to-face. What are the rules for networking online? How do you decide what to say and do, and what not to say and do?

And for LinkedIn especially, how should you react when a stranger makes a connection request?

LinkedIn Pen
© Flickr User Sheila Scarborough

Before I answer this question, I should say first that LinkedIn etiquette is an area of major controversy. While this opinion I’m about to share is strongly rooted in logic and the official terms of service for the platform, not everyone agrees. But I will say that it works for me.

First of all, it’s important you have the same philosophy for interacting with others that you have for yourself. This concept predates online social networking. You might have heard it called “the golden rule.” So whatever guideline you decide to follow for inbound LinkedIn connections, expect the same for outbound connections.

Second, you’re not supposed to connect with people on LinkedIn that you don’t actually know. The system makes it ridiculously easy to invite your address book and presents suggestions constantly, so this may be a surprise. But LinkedIn does not work if everyone accepts everyone.

Third, if LinkedIn provides an “I don’t know this person” link. Clicking on that is punitive; do it enough times and it becomes harder for the other person to invite people. So, be careful about doing that.

So what should you do? My suggestion is that you reply with a script and then delete the request. The reason to reply is to help figure out if the request could be legitimate without shutting down the opportunity to make a new contact. And the reason to delete the request is so it doesn’t clutter your inbox.

Here’s my script. Feel free to steal it:

Hi FIRSTNAME!

Thanks so much for the invite on LinkedIn. I appreciate you reaching out here.

I have to admit I am scratching my head though. Where is it that we met? 

Given my memory, sounds like we should get a cup of coffee or schedule a phone call to get to know each other better.

Want to put something on the calendar? If so, please email me at rslaughter@accelawork.com—LinkedIn messaging is a bit wonky for me. Thanks!

Best,
Robby

Here’s my reasoning for this:

  • I always want to use their first name, since a request is personal. That also shows them I’m paying attention.
  • I also want to show appreciation. It might be the case that they made an effort to find me and make the request. That’s something worth noting.
  • Because I believe LinkedIn is really for people I know in person, I ask them to remind me where it is that we met—and if we didn’t, to set up a time for us to get together. I’m not opposed to making a new contact, but it has to be genuine.
  • Finally, I ask them to email me. That’s because LinkedIn messaging is a pain (and this proves they are paying attention.)

In my experience, at least half of people never respond to my script. I take that to mean they weren’t really serious about using LinkedIn as a place to network with people they actually know, or that it was an accident. And the rest of the responses lead to phone calls or coffee meetings—which have made a difference!

Try it yourself. Or, let me know if I’m off base in the comments.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, September 29 2015 » Uncategorized

One Response

  1. Barbara October 2 2015 @ 4:40 am

    In a similar vein, what is advice for dealing with people that I have met briefly only once, yet repeatedly submit LinkedIn endorsements for various skills and expertise they couldn't possibly have any knowledge of whether I possess or not. I don't know if this is an attempt to get me to return the favor, but I am uncomfortable with endorsements from someone I do not know.

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