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LinkedIn Etiquette: To connect, or not to connect?
I've had some interesting exchanges with people who've been sending me connect requests of-late. My usual approach - that I will connect with people 'with whom I have done business, or who I know personally' - tends to result in me fending off unsolicited connection requests from a swathe of people who fit into neither category. Of those, one can usually classify the request as being:
All of the above - except perhaps the job-seeker and maybe the LION type - are looking to ultimately make money from me. Thus all of them are, fundamentally, sales or revenue-driven networkers who are playing off the numbers - if even 1% of connections over the course of a day/month/year engage with me for business, it's worth the relatively small mechanical effort to click 'connect'.
As a rule I will ignore the obviously spammy connection-attempts - the ones who are clicking like mad in the hope that one day they'll get a commission derived ultimately from having made contact with me. But many more, i'll flick back a message. "Hi, how have we met or done business before?" And this is where the fun begins... I am variously a) ignored, b) replied to with 'oh, sorry, I must have accidentally clicked connect on you, nevermind!' or c) offered an invitation to connect in order to allow the person to [show me their wares|get me on the roster for future job opportunities|get me to consider their professional services].
One recent conversation - the connection request was from another New Zealander, and someone working as a BDM for an organisation with whom I have a history, albeit not in my current role - referred me to https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-ruin-steve-houck as part of a wider discussion of 'What is LinkedIn for?' And there are aspects of the content of that article that I very much agree with.
Unfortunately LinkedIn did themselves no favours when they started bombarding people with invitation emails they did not solicit - because other LinkedIn users submitted their address books, including your email address, to them as a harvesting method (or should I say, a means to build a network using existing contacts, even when those contacts are via public mailing lists, or one-off email exchanges, or similar). And I still disapprove of that approach (as do many others, who swear-off LinkedIn entirely). I think there's value in LinkedIn as a networking tool - not to build a network, so much as maintain one you've already got. Nothing in the end, beats a personal, IRL person-to-person relationship and I think you have to have that before you start reaching out via social media, most particularly when your motive is fundamentally, the $ you earn through sales or market development (whether short game or long).
But that's just my $0.02. I welcome the thoughts of others.
And just for fun I also published this on LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-etiquette-connect-mark-foster for those interested.