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LinkedIn for Consultants: Mind Your Manners

Not a day goes by that I don’t get an invitation from someone around the world to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Right now I have 39 invitations…

Of the all the connection requests I receive, I only accept maybe 10% of them.

Why, you ask? It’s not because I’m unfriendly nor is it because I don’t like to make new connections. On the contrary.

It’s because 90% of the invitations I get are non-personal. Here’s a typical one I just received…

I’d like to add you to my professional network. – Ross”

I don’t know Ross from Rocky. Who is he? Why does he want to connect? Why should I connect with him?

If Ross can’t take 30 seconds to personalize his message to me there’s no way I’m going to take even 5 seconds to look at his invitation. I’m simply going to delete or ignore it and move on with my day.

Just because YOU ARE ABLE to connect with someone through this technology doesn’t mean you should take it for granted.

You wouldn’t just walk up to someone without introducing yourself and say “Hey, let’s connect!” would you? Of course not.

You’d walk up and say something like:

“Hi I’m Ross, a consultant from Brisbane that works with doctors. I really like the work you’re doing Michael and would like to learn more, blah blah….”

Come on people! It’s time to get professional!

LinkedIn is a great tool for business, use it properly.

I’ve said this many times before, one of the easiest ways to stand out in the marketplace is to be a real professional. Because so many other “pros” handle themselves and their communications like young school kids.

BTW, if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, if you take the time to make it personal I’ll be more than happy to connect with you.


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14 thoughts on “LinkedIn for Consultants: Mind Your Manners

  1. Deepak Patil says:

    You are absolutely right . I too receive many invitation from LinkedIn users and majority are in category explained by you .I was wondering whether it makes any sense to get connected with a stranger . Thanks for valuable input solving my problem .Deepak Patil

  2. Deepak – being open to connecting with anyone is worthwhile because it can lead to new opportunities. However, as explained in this article, I’m not interested in connecting with someone I don’t know if they don’t even take the time to introduce themselves properly. I’ll always prefer to surround myself with 10 dedicated people over 100 that just don’t get it.

  3. Michael, thank you for sharing something I really believe in as well. One strategy I use when receiving a connect request without a short introduction is to first see if that person is connected to any of my current connections. If they are, then I will connect and send a note asking politely how we know each other. If I don’t receive a reply, then unfortunately I will ‘un-connect’ that person. If they are not connected to any of my connections, then I will not accept.

  4. ERoche says:

    I agree Michael! LinkedIn is about professional relationship & network building; if you’re that lazy or impersonal, how are we building a relationship? How will we mutually benefit each other? You’re focused on you – increasing your numbers or seeing my contacts.

    • ERoche – Definitely. When I went to sell an investment property I called 5-6 real estate agents, to get as much comparative data as possible, several said they would call back the next day with the information. Only a few of them actually did.

      The ones that didn’t call back, well, they have no chance of getting the business and I’d prefer to know that (their style of communication) up front. Same thing goes for business relationships. You can tell a lot about a person and how they value relationships based on their communication.

  5. I think you make a great point. Because of all the things we CAN do on the Internet (behind the computer screen), we forget about what we SHOULD do as it relates to connecting and personalization.

    I try to connect with someone (I don’t already know personally) with some sort of “what’s in it for you message” or “about me” message. It takes effort, but asking yourself “would I do ‘this’ if I were standing right next to this person” is something I focus on A LOT when networking.

    • Patrick – thanks for posting your comment here as well. Glad you enjoyed the post and it looks like you’ve got the right approach 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hello Michael, I think you’re looking at this all wrong. The global head of Apple Supply Chain has just requested we connect on Linkedin – you wouldn’t his request because he didn’t write some flowery note requesting we connect? I appreciate people wanting to connect with me and always accept (it doesn’t cost me anything and gives me access to a heap more people in their network). I always send them a note back thanking them for their offer to connect. I work in the service industry of management consulting and, since every connection is potentially a source of work and an opportunity to raise my profile, I want to do everything possible to increase my opportunities, especially with the economy being down. I have got some of my best projects out of not discriminating on requests to join.

    A friend of mine in Melbourne (Australia) worked in a GMC (called ‘Holden’ in Australia) new car dealership and one day an old guy in dirty work overalls wandered into the showroom. All the sales guys stayed in their office pretended not to see him and didn’t go out to assist the old guy. My friend didn’t want to go out either but feeling a little sorry for the guy, went out and helped the guy to look at some new cars. Turned out the guy was a multi-millionaire and was shopping to update his company’s car fleet. He had been to a couple of dealerships and nobody had wanted to help him – my friend had been the only one who made an effort. My friend made a heap of sales that day and the guy promised that as long as the friend worked there, he would always buy his new cars from him – and for the next 5 years he did. The point is, even though the request is not dressed up and fancy, it may still be worth a lot…I’m apply the same principles to Linkedin…

    • NobbyAsia – appreciate the comment and have been enjoying the discussion around this topic.

      Your point is well taken. However, it’s not what concerns me. I’ll explain…

      Choosing to accept an invitation from someone that hasn’t taken the time to make it personal in any way is a question of choice. One person may choose to accept it right away. Others will look into who the person is (as you’ve suggested), and still others don’t have the time to look at the profile of every connection request they get and therefore decide based on the message, whether to accept it or leave it. (I fall into that last one).

      Growing your network is a great thing. Accept as many connection requests as you want. But YOU choosing to accept or decline is not the point to focus on here…

      The issue I’m concerned with is the success of the consultants and professionals reading this post…and how to help YOU make more connections of your own and land more clients and grow your business. If you take the 5 seconds required to personalize the message you’re sending to the person you want to connect with, not only are your chances of having that connection approved better, you’ll also stand out from everyone else. You come off looking more professional. That’s the image you want to present.

      It’s a simple approach, yet it’s a powerful one more consultants and professionals should use.

  7. Carol Briney says:

    I appreciate you taking the time to write this article. I too get tons of invites and before I accept I would like to know a little about you. I am not looking for a flowery invite, just something that tells me a little about you. It is just plain old fashioned good manners. Thank again!

  8. Hinutc says:

    I totally agree with your entry. When I first joined LinkedIn, I mistakenly accepted requests to connect from people I didn’t know, thinking it could lead to future relationships. Not so much. I also accepted for being just too darned polite and not wanting to offend anyone.
    Now that I am more experienced in utilizing LinkedIn, I tend to get a little frustrated with the requests from people who fail to personalize their requests and explain why they want to connect with me.

  9. I agree too if they personalize their message to introduce themselves then i will definitively introduce myself and see how we can work together from there

  10. Thanks Michael for bringing up a prickly subject. As far as LI strategy goes, I have tried a few, and so far succeeded, but gotten myself into trouble a couple of times in the way. As NobbyAsia stated, I totally agree nobody should shy away from connecting with as many people as possible. And I also agree that a personalized message is far greater appreciated than the generic, but I have also found out that some people, I can’t fathom why, even with a personalized message, mark you as spam, when you are not trying to sell anything, just meet and maybe do some business. I have found out even recruiters, HR, and sales people mark as dunno-this-dude… can’t in the name of all named holy figure out why.
    The LI rules are pretty strict (and a couple stupid in my humble opinion), but my point here is, if LI’s concept is a Virtual Networking meeting room,then everybody should be able to meet and greet everybody as a normal F2F meet-n-greet networking event. Don’t get me wrong, I have ‘unfriended’ a few spammers and scammers, some even with a nice original opening line. And some others with generic presentation, eventually did some nice business, just either one of us lacked the finesse to drop a nice line on the get-go. I guess kind of meeting in the restroom while on break from the M&G…
    My strategy has been to connect with anybody and everybody (Lions groups included) thus eventually get my targets into firing 2nd degree range, then connect with maybe a personalized message. By the way, I have met a few very interesting nontargeted people and in the end maybe, just maybe we’ll get something out, besides a connection.
    And yes, I’ve managed to get a few targets into firing range, then meeting them physically, and then done some business. It works very well the other way around too -better, as far as I’m concerned-, just so you know.
    It is a matter of thinking outside the box, being patient, all in hopes of finding your right spot. The point is, You never know.
    Do please feel free to drop me a line (generic, it’s Ok) in LI or Twitter. I am a fully binational, bicultural Strategy Consultant. I’ll be very happy, and be good for everybody, I’m sure.

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