Why I Ignored Your Incognito LinkedIn Invitation

Like most savvy business people, I’m on LinkedIn. I’m even pretty active. I maintain my profile, post updates, ask and respond to questions, follow groups, and connect with people. You know, all of those things Entrepreneur and Inc. tell you to do. As such, I often receive invitations to connect. Unfortunately, a startling percentage of those requests look like the image above. It’s like when you were a kid walking home from school and that creepy playground stalker pulled up in a van and offered you candy—awkward and uncomfortable.


The problem is, people take the impersonal nature of social media for granted. If you were at a dinner party, would you just walk up to a stranger and say “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn?” No, because that would be ridiculous. Online networking is no different. Treat it like a face-to-face encounter.


Here’s what happened yesterday when I received an invitation:

“Oh, a new connection! Let’s see…[opens email]”

“Who is this?” [View Profile]

“Really? His profile picture is a lion?” [exasperated sigh]

Scans profile…finds no useful information [Ignore]


My thought process is pretty much the same every time I get these anonymous invitations to connect. Seems harsh? Well, here’s the thing.


I’m not interested in connections. I’m interested in relationships.


Maybe I’m a rare breed. To date, I have 202 connections. That might seem like a drop in the bucket to some people. However, I can scroll through my contacts and tell you something about each one of them. What about you, Mr. 500+ connections? Do you even know who those 500+ people are? How many actual conversations have you engaged in? LinkedIn is not a leaderboard. It’s a tool for relationship building (there’s that word again).


Here’s the non-annoying way to make an introduction on LinkedIn:


Introduce yourself (duh).
This is especially important for a “cold” invitation. Tell the person who you are, what you do, and why you want to connect. Even if you’ve never met, maybe you share business interests that would result in a fruitful relationship. If you say that up front, it gives them a reason to find out more about you. Otherwise, you’ve just annoyed them by wasting their precious time.


Provide a little context.
If the person is like me, they’re terrible with names. Jog their memory. For example:


Hey [name]. It was a pleasure meeting you at [event]. Let’s keep in touch and continue our discussion on [whatever].


Use a photo of YOU, not a lion.
Seriously. Nobody knows who you are. Make it easy for people to identify you.


That’s it. “You and [name] are now connected.” However, don’t stop there! Continue to cultivate this connection and turn it into a relationship.


So please, from now on, don’t send people default LinkedIn invitations. If you have a reason for connecting, take two minutes to write a sentence telling them so. If you don’t have a reason and you’re just trying to build numbers on your profile, stop it.


Do you have any other LinkedIn pet peeves? Share them in the comments.

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Robyn Short


Robyn is a Creative Problem Solver who lives at the intersection of design and business. Her company, All Things Creative, provides branding, design, and marketing assistance to businesses who are serious about growing to the next level. Follow Robyn on Twitter.

  • Linda

    February 22, 2014 at 8:48 PM Reply

    Now I definately love this article! It pisses me off when people, with 500+ LinkedIn connections, want to connect with me but I don’t hear from them again. I only accept their invitation for the purpose of us being of service for each other, but instead it feels as if we’re on Facebook [where there’s “5000” friends and only 20 mutual bonds.

    • Robyn Short

      February 22, 2014 at 11:07 PM Reply

      I know what you mean Linda! I’ve been in the same boat many times. When I receive these anonymous requests to connect, if the person seems like someone I would like to connect with, I often reply with a note thanking them for reaching out to connect, and also asking them how they discovered me and what prompted them to reach out. Unfortunately, 90% of the time I never receive a response! When this happens, I know they are just a number booster and I end up ignoring them. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.

      It’s not about the number of connections you have, but the quality of those connections. That’s why I feel it is so important to have a reason to connect. Even if that reason is only that you’re in the same geographic area or in the same industry. What can you learn from each other? What can you share? What projects can you collaborate on? I’m not interested in boosting a person’s “numbers” on social media. I’m interested in actually engaging in meaningful dialogue!

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