Who do you want to be linked to?

How many times do you get a LinkedIn invite from someone you don't know, have never met and/or don't have mutual LinkedIn contacts?  And, on top of that it's the boiler plate language used for the invitation which is an even more of a puzzling introduction. 

Don't get me wrong. I reach out to people I don't know on LinkedIn all of time when I think there might be a mutually beneficial opportunity. I do it through LinkedIn Premium and send them a private message. Sometimes I get a response and sometimes I don't. I have a few very good clients that I have found and developed a great customer relationship with that way; so, I highly recommend reaching out to those you don't know where there might be some potential reciprocal benefits. But an automatic LinkedIn invite, I do not recommend. It makes people (or least me) uncomfortable. 

I have always viewed LinkedIn different than Twitter, Instagram, etc. I mean LinkedIn is a professional social media platform based on virtual networking. You can accept an invitation or ignore it. From a professional standpoint, I manage my connections based on if I know you, met you or have developed a relationship with you which can include through in-person, email, and/or phone communications.  

When I get an invite from someone I have no immediate connection to; I email them back asking how might they propose that we network?  And, what was their interest in contacting me?  I have only received a response back one time.  But honestly that one response made sense; and, I accepted the invitation. Therefore, that person was serious and had thought out his intention and objective of networking with me on LinkedIn. 

So, my point. We need to always show that we're serious, thoughtful and purposeful. And, while it's virtual networking, we want to create an environment for our connections that are meaningful and mutually beneficial. So, the next time you think about sending someone a LinkedIn invite that you don't know; stop and instead send them a thoughtful private message.  Let them know you're serious about connecting with them. 


Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.