Would you connect with someone on LinkedIn who does not want to speak with you?
If it weren’t for my own experience over several years, I probably would not think that was a question worth asking.
But consider this. LinkedIn is a professional business networking platform. It is not and never has been intended as a Facebook type platform where people are happy to “friend” just about anybody that comes along.
I shared my views on this in a post here, back in June, on building networks on LinkedIn, not collections where I stated that for first level connections on LinkedIn to happen, I need to first have some form of personal contact and at the very least a conversation via phone or Skype. Meeting up for a coffee would be ok but is not usually an option, as most people who want to connect are not in the same locality as I am and most are not even in the same country.
My approach of requesting at least a phone/Skype conversation is not an extreme position: in fact it is much less rigorous than the approach LinkedIn recommends, which is to only connect with professionals you know well and whom you are generally willing to recommend to your other business contacts.
Basically I go along with that, with some flexibility on a person-by-person basis. My rule of thumb is that if anyone is in my first level of connections on LinkedIn I will be happy to introduce them to my other connections and put in a good word for them, as the saying goes.
So lately, in yet another endeavour to respond helpfully to invitations which come from people with whom I have had no previous connection, I have been offering to have a phone or Skype conversation.
I have sent a version of the following, either via LinkedIn where that is possible (e.g. both members of a group and with direct messaging for the group enabled) or by some other means where I can, e.g. by email if I have an address (the time zone info is included for people in other countries):
I appreciate the invitation to connect on LinkedIn. I’m a bit conservative on that and where I haven’t done business with someone or known them personally “in real life” I like to at least have a chat by Skype or phone. A lot aren’t interested in doing that, which is ok, but if you are up for that I’d love to talk at a mutually convenient time. Time zones can be a challenge, but I’m usually here and available most days from 9 am my time Mon-Fri. That is equivalent to from … your time, Sun to Thurs. Before that time I’m either asleep, or out for a morning walk or having breakfast. 🙂
As I say, if you don’t want to chat that’s fine. But I do find it means I have a better connection with those I’m linked to on LinkedIn.
Every good wish
That’s friendly enough, isn’t it?
I have sent several of these out in the past couple of weeks. So far, two responses, and only one of those with a follow-up. For the one who followed up, we had a great conversation by phone and knowing now what the person does I would be very happy to recommend him to others wanting to connect with people in his field.
But I wonder, yet again, how serious were all the other people in their invitations to connect?
And why would I want to be connected at that direct, “1st level” of LinkedIn with someone who a) does not want to speak with me and/or b) does not want to reply to a note like the one above?
Yes, having mutual connections is a start, just as both of us belonging to a particular LinkedIn Group can be a start. But I need to speak in order to help me make up my mind.
Is that not fair and reasonable?
By the way, if you want to use my response note above or a version of it, be my guest: just don’t hold your breath waiting for replies!
Image credit: “Skype phone” by re-ality, via Flickr, Creative Commons license