Friday, March 2, 2012

Do I Know You? What To Do With Invites From Unfamiliar Names

The longer you're on LinkedIn and the more active you become, you'll notice you receive more and more invitations to connect to people you don't know. 

If you're like me, you're personalizing your invitations to help others in your network understand why you wish to connect. If you're not doing this yet, please read this for instructions

What do you do when you receive LinkedIn invitations to connect to people you don't know? Most people ignore the invitations. Or perhaps mouse over the name and review the person's profile to see if there is anything common or interesting. And then they either accept or ignore the invite depending on those results. 

Here's a technique to help you do two things:
1. Solve the problem of an ever-increasing list of invitations
2. Weed out the people you want to connect, and archive those you don't wish to accept.

Plus, using this technique, you'll create dialog with these individuals, thereby helping to further the effectiveness of your network. 

First, log into LinkedIn.  Then, follow these simple instructions:

1. Mouse over your "Inbox"
2. Then, click on "Invitations"

3. Just below the person's name whose invitation you've received, you'll see an "Accept" box with a dropdown arrow. Click that arrow, and 4. you'll see the option to "Reply (don't accept yet)."

5. Type in three words: "Have We Met?"
If you feel the need to be cordial, you can add a salutation, "Hi Russell," as shown here.
6. Then, click "Send message" and wait for their response.
At this point, I'll give the person a few days to respond. 

If I don't hear back within a week, I can probably correctly assume they don't use LinkedIn that often. This is not the type of contact that will help me nor my network, so then I'll go back in and "Archive" the invitation to clear it out of my invitation list. 

If they do reply back, their response can help you decide what to do next. Typically, I receive one of these responses (and my next steps in parentheses):

1. "Hi Brenda, no we haven't met, but your profile looked interesting and I thought we might be able to connect." (yes, I will accept this - since the person is explaining WHY they wish to connect. Plus, that's flattering!)

2. "Maybe. I go to a lot of events in Troy." (I might connect, after I look over their profile to see if I see anything of interest to me. If not, I'll archive it, since this is a lazy response and they aren't giving me any real reason to want to connect. I've given them an ample opportunity to explain themselves, which is more than many will do.)

3. "No, but your name came up in the LinkedIn search on my page. My apologies if I've done this incorrectly. I'm still learning how to use LinkedIn." (yes, I typically will accept this, since this is a genuine response and I like to help people to learn how to use LinkedIn)

4. "No we haven't met, but you know Joe Smith and Bobbi Jones and they both suggested I connect to you." (yes, I will accept since we share mutual connections whom I remember)

5. "Not yet, but I'd love to buy you a coffee and talk about my company's print solutions. We have a high capacity printer and we're based in Detroit." (no, since I don't want to be sold to. I want to connect for mutually beneficial reasons. I can find salespeople through my network if/when I need it.)

Regardless of their reason for requesting an invitation, please select the "Archive" option instead of "Report Spam" whenever possible. This helps to prevent other LinkedIn users from having their accounts locked up!

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