LinkedIn Laziness – Canned Invitations


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!)

I welcome your comments! No part of this article may be reproduced in any manner without permission and attribution.

  • Christelle Louis

    So glad to have come across this article! I am definitely guilty of this. People have a habit of treating Linkedin like Facebook. This as you mentioned takes away from the significance of the actual connection. People revert form being possible professional connections to just numbers. When I first started off on Linkedin I assumed that the more connections you had translates to the more opportunities you’d have waiting for you. Boy did I click away at anyone I thought was slightly relevant to my interests.I was definitely playing the numbers game. Now that I think about it, it truly defeats the purpose of the social site. Hopefully I get rid of this nasty habit and see a difference within the connections I am making. Great work Patricia!

    • Thank you, Christelle! Glad you found the info useful. I hope you make even stronger, valuable connections going forward! And I’m looking forward to our tea (or coffee) soon!

  • Deborah Ivanoff

    Oh, wow, Patricia. I’m so glad someone (you) is tackling this one. Because I am really trying to “play” the Social Media game in a way that creates more connection and fun, the way I would if I was meeting the person live. I don’t want those “pretense” relationships, I want the real deal. Thanks! And I love that you and I have that “real” relationship, showing that you can create “real” connections from participating in groups.

    • Aww, thanks Deborah. I believe people see icons and don’t mentally attach them to people, like you and me, behind them. We would never just walk up to someone and say, “Let’s connect,” or “Be in my network.” We’d talk first, get to know one another, chit chat about what they do. It’s not rocket science but I guess the uptake for many has been a little slow. But fortunately you and I have been doing it right for years. We met on LinkedIn and have shared numerous phone calls and emails. If that ain’t networkin’, I don’t know what is!

  • Rene

    Unfortunately, now when sending invites, the “add a personal note” to the invite allows VERY limited amount of characters. So about one sentence total! In the past the advise was to send a short “note” but now it’s like once sentence and it can still come across canned :o(

    • You might want to check that again, Rene. Just this week I sent out a few invitations and there is more than enough characters allowed to introduce yourself and explain why you want to connect. If you’d like a screenshot, I can share one as well.

  • You are 100% correct Patricia, maybe we need to make you our Ms Manners.

    One problem on Linked In, is they don’t give you much room to be more personable (especially if it is someone you’ve re-discovered after a long time and your name has changed!)

  • Stacey Simpkins

    This is a great article & teaching tool for newcomers (like me) to social media venues such as LinkedIn, FB, & Twitter who aren’t up to speed on the best practices of networking online. I wouldn’t consider it laziness, but unawareness on my part. Thank you Patricia for sharing this with me.

  • CJ

    I must be the odd duck out. I have never sent a canned invite. And oddly enough, I have never been sent a canned invite. Guess it never occurred to me to do that. I haven’t done it on FB or Twitter either.

    I wonder if that is the former Air Force Intelligence mentality coming out. Not sure.

    I do allow most follows on Twitter, though if they are questionable I’ll block in a heartbeat. I don’t want someone to see a follow and go, “OH, they follow CJ, so they must be ok.”

    I also don’t follow everyone back either. I will review their site and their tweets and make sure we are on the same wave length. Still trying to figure out how you can effectively network and commuincate with a few thousand followers.

    Networking is the same virtually as well as in person. Respect and common ground. Small business need this now more than ever.

    PS: In case you miss it, found your site via linkedin. Thanks for the discussion.

  • Patricia: I agree 100%. I think this also applies to Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t start out looking at people who sent me a “friend” request on either Facebook or Twitter. I now regret that for a variety of reasons. Now, I review each request – determine who they are, are they like-minded, or complementary, and a little bit about who they are. If I don’t know them, I will ask them why they want to be “friends” on Facebook. On Twitter, I am doing that as well. I don’t follow everyone who follows me. Some of the tweets are nonsensical, and I don’t get them, so I allow the follow, but don’t necessarily follow them. When I follow someone, I am trying to send a message either mention or directly to let them know a little about what intrigues me, and allow them to make the decision as to whether they choose to follow me. While it takes more time, it creates better relationships.

  • I admit I tend to do this on LinkedIn but will not in the future. I’ve been more aware of it on Facebook – maybe because they don’t have a “canned” introduction. Live and learn! I’ve learned.

  • Patricia,

    I too am guilty and taking steps to improve. I find your comments very refreshing and thought provoking. I know a lot of business people in Linkedin and I venture to say that the majority do not have an idea how to grow their business using it.

    I have made a conscious decision to learn, upon taking a class from Raymond Chip Lambert of Network to Networth.
    He opened my eyes to how much I was leaving behind by not utilizing Linked in.

    Thanks…I will be following your comments!

  • Great article Patricia. I too was guilty of this canned approach, but “I’ve changed my ways.” 🙂 Thanks for the lesson!