Oh my! I’m so guilty of this one and many of you here are already aware. While I like to consider myself a savvy communicator I have certainly dropped the ball in this case and I apologize to those of you on the other end of my poor introduction. I can’t count the times I’ve made comments to a discussion, found other comments relevant, unique and/or interesting and very thoughtlessly sent an invitation to connect with the poster. I merely selected the group we share from the drop down menu and clicked Send Invitation leaving the “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. – Patricia” part intact and unrevised. Being relatively new here I figured certainly that’s what most do. I have received many (SO many) invitations with the exact same canned so-called personal note.
Imagine my shock when this evening I received a response to one of those invitations with one simple question, “Why do you want to connect with me?” At first, I admit, I felt insulted and wanted to reply, “We’re on LinkedIn, we’re supposed to connect!” I didn’t, though, and instead replied to the gentleman that I had seen his comments in a discussion in our shared writing group and that I’d also visited his website and respect his opinions on several topics. I added that I hoped we would be able to communicate going forward and perhaps even have some spirited debates and exchanges. I wasn’t schmoozing; every word was sincere. I’m not working a numbers game here. Everyone within my network is either someone I already know and have developed a relationship with or someone I expect to communicate with going forward regardless of how loosely we stay in contact. Within minutes after sending my reply, he’d accepted my invitation.
That caused me to do some research on this subject and there are plenty of blogs and sites referring to this lazy LinkedIn introduction style. For as much as we may imply that we are great networkers, I believe we take online relationships for granted and forget they are connected to real people, not just the icons and photos we see in profiles. There really is no excuse to be any more relaxed here than we would when attending a meeting or conference. I would never walk across a room, pull out a card and say, “Here. Call me.” I’d extend a handshake, state my name, make reference to why I came over (the presentation that was just conducted or the article I read) then I’d offer my card and hopefully be offered one in return.
If you’ve ever sent one of those canned invitations, especially to someone you don’t know well, admitting it is the first step to recovery. Stand up and say it – “My name is ________ and I am a lousy LinkedIn invitation-sender!” (I’ve still got some of your invitations; don’t make me point you out. Wink!)
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