Stumbled upon 2 blog posts recently about LinkedIn invites – ‘(I am tired of) Generic LinkedIn Invitations‘ and ‘Best practices in writing LinkedIn invitations‘.

Time and again, I see someone in my Twitter timeline complaining about how lame it is to send a generic, default LinkedIn invite with no customization and how it takes just a few seconds to personalize!

Completely valid – from the sender’s perspective. The first blog mentioned above even has a great line,

“Itâ??s like walking up to someone at a networking event.  Holding up a sign indicating what group we share.  Taking my business card.  And then walking away.”

Perfect.

But!

Doesn’t the online world offer a certain level (a wee bit – you are NOT standing next to that person in an event, in reality!) of anonymity and commensurate distance? The real world is personal, if we want it to be, with people we like and know. The online world negates time and space, and also that immediacy of being personal.

So, how do I accept invites on LinkedIn?

I look at the possible connection mentioned in the invite.

Colleague? Do I like him/her? Connect.
Ex-colleague? Like him/her? Connect.
Classmate/ex-classmate. Same as above.

Someone I know from somewhere/Twitter/Facebook/Real world? I don’t care about that piddly personal message in the invite or the lack of it – I see their profile first. I’m aware that I’m just a tiny speck online with only marginally better influence than some. So, I see the profile to see if it is of any interest. To me!

One of the most valuable lessons you learn in PR is summed up like this: ‘Today’s trainee journalist could be tomorrow’s editor!’. So, the profile gives me some glimpse into the person’s capabilities – a good blog linked to the profile…a twitter feed that shows a sample of the kind of tweets and interactions the person has been having…a few recommendations that sound good…the way the profile has been crafted…all these are subjective, but is enough for me to decide whether it is worth connecting or not – personal invite message or not.

The point is simply this: I see what value I could gain from the connection and not what that person could gain from me. The value could be in many, many ways – I could offer him/her a job..they could offer one. I could connect them to someone and help both in the process…they could do the same. I could get an intern post for someone I know and want to help through the connection…they could seek me out for the same. I could call that person for an event I’m planning or share a blog post of mine which I think would be useful to them.

If only we go beyond the, ‘Eeww…no personal invite message on LinkedIn? If he cannot write even a single personalized invite, he may not have time to connect with me and not worth my time too’…there are so many ways we could gain from others online, via LinkedIn.

Picture courtesy: wildchild106 via Flickr.

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