I think this is something that almost anyone with a LinkedIn account has suffered or happened to them… an invitation to connect that comes out of the blue from someone you don’t know. No message, or just the standard message, no explanation, nothing… just an invitation in your LinkedIn inbox from someone, usually with a happy face —maybe a fake one— that perhaps is in a similar field as yours —or not— and they live close to you —or they don’t. I hate it, because I need to figure out who this person is and what they want.
What are they? Are they bots? Are they mining personal information? Are they just people that can figure out how social interactions should work? Did they click in my profile by mistake? What is going on here? A really don’t understand .
Ok… after a brief search on internet about the topic, now I understand… They are LIONs1 —LinkedIn Open Networkers— in other words they are people which only goal is to grow their LinkedIn’s network —to huge numbers— so it’s easier for them to connect to other people really interesting for them in the future and appear in more people’s searches. LinkedIn only allow you to connect to other people when you are up to 3 degrees of separation from that person and the same for searchers, you only show up when you are up to 3 degrees of separation away. So when you have a huge network you have more probability to be at 3 or less degrees of separation those contact you really want to connect with. You can find longest explanation here and here.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m nothing special, just a professional looking for opportunities and someone who is, of course, really glad to meet and connect with other people. I think LinkedIn could be a great place to do it. The problem is that you just don’t poke, or connect, people randomly without knowing anything about them, without telling them why do you want to know more about them and/or telling a little bit about you. If you sent me a message —in or out LinkedIn— telling me why you want to connect with me —just a line, or a couple if you want— then I will be more than happy to connect with you. On the condition that you have a real and meaningful reason you want to connect. If you send me a standard message or you tell me that you just want to connect, it has the same effect as it you tell me nothing.
Can you imagine that you are in a bar, a conference or just in the street and you decide to give your business card to random people and passersby? With no reason at all? Telling to all of them the same artificial phrase without trying to learn anything about them. Would you take their card? Would you keep it? No I guess no, because it doesn’t have any sense unless you are human billboard and giving handouts to everyone without any filter, which most probably will end up in the garbage. Aren’t you a seasoned professional that you really want to stand out other the rest? Don’t you really want to look professional?
On the other hand, just imagine for a second. You are in the same bar, conference or just in the street (in some event or something) and someone approach you, introduce himself, tell you that knows you from XYZ, and they would love to know more about your work and they hand you their card. I’m sure your perspective changes a lot about that person and you are provably going to remember them.
The problem seems to be related to the Recommended for you panel on My Network section. If you click on one of those connect buttons, it seems that a direct invitation to connect is sent to that profile, without asking you if you want to add a note —yes please! I’m wondering now if this isn’t a bug, but a feature. In other words, does Microsoft want you to have as much connections as possible? What for?
I don’t care what are the current LinkedIn dynamics, or if they have changed since Microsoft has bought it. In my opinion it’s plainly wrong to send invitations to connect with people you don’t know out of the blue and without any message. Instead of just clicking on that connect button in My Network section, you can check the LinkedIn’s profile of the person is suggested to you and in their profile you can click on connect —if you consider the person is worth to connect with— and add a note to your invitation to connect —YAY! . Even if I know you beforehand, in real life or just because we’ve been exchanging emails —or whatever— you should add a note to refresh my memory or send a message outside of LinkedIn. Memories fail!
As this guy states, if you don’t add a message to your invitation you are showing:
- That you are indistinguishable of all the other invitations.
- You are disingenuous, that I’m going to include you in my network just because you send me an invitation.
- You lack of creativity and you are lazy since you decided not to even check my profile —and contact me from there, either in LinkedIn using a note to your invitation or using my contact info— and if you have done so, you decided explicitly not to write a note .
The problem is worsen by LinkedIn, since you can’t ask to someone that is asking you to connect with exactly why they want to connect with you, since that is a premium feature to send messages to people outside your network. So people don’t want to pay, which is normal with that prices, and just try to connect with others in the free tier. Perhaps LinkedIn should allow to at least reply to those invitations with a message asking for more info.
I know that sending a message, check the profile or research a little bit sometimes is a lot of effort, but I really think it’s worth it. I have this web, where you can find my contact information and contact me in several different ways. I also have my contact information in my LinkedIn profile. There is no excuse to send me a message telling me who you are and why are you interested in me.
NO MORE RANDOM INVITATIONS, please!
To be honest, and after giving it a thought, I don’t think they are even that, because I bet an arm that most of them don’t know what a LION is. I didn’t know until I wrote this piece and I doubt most people in LinkedIn know about that. They just connect because they know they are going to get something on the long run or just because LinkedIn is suggesting them to do so. They just click in connect under your profile. ↩