Thanks for the LinkedIn Invitation: Care to Speak First?

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.

Skype phone - photo by re-ality via Flickr 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

Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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  1. I have just the opposite opinion on this. Since I share only professional information, and nothing personal, I consider a linkedIn connection like handing out my business card at a networking event.

    Facebook on the other hand is more personal. I don’t want everyone I meet to see pictures of my vacations, kids and office party.

    And though we disagree, I think you would be interesting to connect with on LinkedIn, so I will send you an invite, and I would be happy to chat if you are interested.

    1. Thanks Lorraine. There is no shortage of people who would disagree with me on this, some strenuously. One guy who is a “super-connector” on LinkedIn kept saying to me one time over drinks “You’re wrong!”

      I understand the business card analogy. Unfortunately, I’m finding that the business cards aren’t working very well. I go to the occasional offline networking event, do the chat thing and the card exchange, dutifully follow up with an email – then, mostly, silence. I really wonder why some people bother. Maybe they just want company for a couple of hours and some snack food. I’m also finding that fewer and fewer Gen Y types, especially in the Web/tech field, seem to even *have* business cards to exchange: I’m sure there’s a topic worth exploring there.

      I look forward to receiving your invite – and chatting!

  2. Too late, it has become a Facebook like platform and everybody is pitching everybody.

    I think it can be a great chance to get hundreds of business presentations if I would ask everybody to talk first on phone with me.

    Just think of the network marketers: It would be like heaven for them to be invited to a phone call by everybody whom they contact on LinkedIn.

    But maybe this also depend on the industry that you are in and which job somebody is doing.

    What do you think about this?

  3. Volker

    You may be right. That’s not been my experience. As I’ve indicated in this post and others, most people simply don’t respond, at all. That suggests to me that they have just used the facility to invite a whole bunch of people using the boilerplate invitation but not having any clear strategy of what they were trying to achieve.

    Also, if it came to having some call me and start pitching, I would politely draw the conversation to a close. Again, my experience is that with the people who do respond positively to the idea of a chat and especially the smaller number who follow through the conversations are much more “getting to know you” and establish a good basis for future interactions, which may well involve some pitching, but now more permission-based.

    If I start getting a lot of people eager to chat I’ll assume someone has written a book for network marketers telling them to do that! Then I would need to re-think and re-group.

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