“And you are….? And you are here because…? And you are looking for…?...”

Many years ago there was a funny skit on Saturday Night Live about an absolutely clueless - and very obnoxious, receptionist who did not recognize very recognizable celebrity characters when they arrived at his desk. The receptionist would ask multiple questions like the ones above. The skit would go on and on with the questions and answers becoming more and more ridiculous.

I often feel like that receptionist when I receive an invitation to connect on LinkedIn from someone I don’t know who just sends me the default LinkedIn connection request. The default invitation looks like this:


I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

-[John Doe]

I know that on MySpace and FaceBook people “friend up” with complete strangers all the time. But somehow on LinkedIn it just feels wrong, at least to me. LinkedIn is about building your “network of connections”. To me, a “network of connections” implies that my connections are actually people I have interacted with in one way or another either in person, over the phone, through email or online in a forum of some kind.

Even connecting with a perfect stranger is fine with me as long as they provide some context for the invitation; some reason for connecting. Reasons would include an industry, company or school in common; an interest in common, a professional objective in common….whatever. Just SOMETHING that shows you are interested in building a relationship with me and not just increasing your connection count.

As a result of being very vocal on this topic in various online forums, I have been criticized for my position on the matter. There are also a fair number of supporters of my view as well, so I know I am not alone. I freely admit to being a “relationship gal” and I do not apologize for it. It is one of the strengths that I bring to my career as a recruiter when dealing with clients and candidates.

I guess this really shouldn’t surprise me, but there are actually people in this world who don’t think they need to tell you anything about themselves or why they want to connect with you. Apparently they think that you will just be so enthralled with their utterly fascinating profile (to which you must navigate in order to get any sense of who they are) that you just can’t help yourself but to accept their invitation. To me, this just seems incredibly arrogant. And certainly NOT a way to start a relationship! Sheeesh!

It is not as though I don’t accept invitations from perfect strangers, I do. I am just picky about how I am approached. The LinkedIn invitation is your first opportunity to make a good impression, especially when approaching a complete stranger. If you are truly interested in connecting with someone, WHY would you want to imply that they are not really worth your time by sending them the generic invitation? Do yourself a favor, take a few moments to review their profile, particularly the section at the bottom called “Contact Settings”, and customize your invitation accordingly. Approaching strangers in this way shows them respect and dignity; that you actually VALUE what they might bring to your network. Isn’t that a much better way to start any kind of relationship?

This content was previously published on www.careercourageously.com

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