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How NOT to ask to connect on LinkedIn

If you received this LinkedIn message (an invitation to connect), what would you do?  PS:  I’ve changed some of the details to protect the innocent, but otherwise, this is the message I was asked to forward along.

elegant invitation from kimubertHi Sam….I am an outgoing, personable, professional with a BSBA in Accounting from Stuffy Business School at Private University. Post graduation I worked two years as a Staff Accountant and two years as an Assistant Project Manager. I left the position as a Staff Accountant because it was not a good fit for me.  I am interested in learning about professional business administration opportunities with The Best Company in Your Town, USA. I didn’t see any job openings at that location that met my status/experience/qualifications. Can I have your email/phone, so I can send you my resume and explain my qualifications further? As a side note, I just began my job search and have had interviews with two strong local companies and things are starting to move quickly, but would like to explore opportunities that meet my status/experience/qualifications with The Best Company. My # is 555-1212 and email is desperatecandidate@zmail.com.

Problem 1: Even when sending a message within Linkedin, formatting matters.  This is just one big glob of text.  It is overwhelming to read.  Try breaking it into paragraphs.

Problem 2: It isn’t until the 4th sentence that Sam will realize what this person is asking.  Will Sam read that far?

Problem 3: What kind of job is this job seeker looking for exactly?  “Business Administration opportunities”? This is too vague. It requires too much thinking for someone who is busy.

Problem 4: “Can I have your email/phone so I can send you my resume?” Are you kidding?  First of all, this candidate should put his resume in his LinkedIn profile as a Boxnet file.  Second, he has assumed that someone would want his resume- so far, as the reader, I am not convinced I would want it.  Third, if this person accepts the invite, then the job seeker should be able to see the email address.

Problem 5: What this job seeker has done is to put the burden of action on Sam.  People are busy.  They don’t owe strangers anything, it has to be earned.  As the “requester”, take ownership, accountability and action!

Problem 6: This invitation to connect has become a classic example of “bait and switch” or, “connect with me so I can use you to find a job.”  No one wants to feel used.

Networking requires patience and finesse.  One of the most important rules of social networking is to build a relationship.  Remember, a relationship is a two-way street.  Think about what the other person needs or wants to get from the relationship. Here’s an example of how this message could be re-worded:

Hello Sam:

I have asked Hannah to forward this request to connect on LinkedIn because of my interest in what you are doing to promote the Best Company’s reputation in Your Town. I also see you are quite involved and active on LinkedIn.

As a Staff Accountant and Assistant Project Manager, I’ve been able to save my company money by implementing quality processes and improving cross-departmental communication.  I strongly believe these accomplishments would be of value at The Best Company as well, however, I would like the opportunity to better understand the goals and challenges of The Best Company.

By connecting on LinkedIn, I hope to  learn more about you and The Best Company and one day meet in person.  Might you be attending the Digital Your Town event in May? Perhaps we can chat further then.

Thanks for your willingness to connect.

How would you re-word this invite?  What have you said in your invitations to connect through LinkedIn?

Photo credit to kimubert

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kimba Green April 21, 2011, 8:33 am

    Ha Ha! He He! I can’t help it! The letter is priceless because it does show what ‘not’ to do.

    Research, research & research!

  • Amy L. Adler April 21, 2011, 9:09 am

    What a great post. I think people routinely mistake networking for job seeking. I would also go so far as to suggest that the networker find something of value to offer the networking target–for example, a link to an article concerning a topic the person posted about on LinkedIn. The networking has to go both ways, and even the inviter has to to bring something of value to the relationship. Additionally, these offerings can be the start of great ongoing conversations, which are much more valuable than the “give me something” these opening salvos tend to be.

    Thanks again for posting,

  • Sue Schnorr April 21, 2011, 9:32 am

    Great post!

    I receive many calls and requests like this. Well meaning, yet uninformed people can come across as desperate and annoying!

    You hit the nail on the head, Hannah, networking is about relationship building; it’s a two way street. It’s about forming meaningful connections and building your own personal learning network which enables you to excel in your job and to advance your career.

    My stomach turns when I hear “I’d like to come in and hear about your business.” I nicely reply, “You can look on my website!” As much as I’d like to help, I simply don’t have the time to meet with every person who approaches me.

    • Hannah Morgan April 21, 2011, 9:48 am

      @Kimba, Yes, with a little or a lot of research, the conversation and connection will flow much better!

      @Amy, I so agree, people confuse networking for job seeking! Networking = relationship building and goes on forever! (Actually, maybe this is true for job search as well…) Adding a link to an article is a great idea!

      @Sue, Thanks! With a little research and creative thinking even the most desperate of job seekers can come across as a “Must Meet”! It comes down to how sincere they are and how much they know about your business. Ultimately, how have they positioned themselves to be a solution to your problems?!

  • John April 21, 2011, 7:36 pm

    Very good post and not to detract on the theme, but I keep hearing risks of posting resume on LI to lose contol over it (not knowing who might be an interested person or having unscrupulous recruiter distributing it to potential client without you permission. )

    Sadly I have received more that one requests such as this and I don’t go beyond first sentence if before deleting or not

    • Hannah Morgan April 22, 2011, 7:28 am

      I suppose linking a resume may pose “control” issues. I would guess there are not as many unscrupulous recruiters out there as one may think. When posting a resume either on LinkedIn or on resume posting sites, always be aware of what contact information you’ve put on it. Name and a main source of contact information, either phone number or email address, is all that’s really necessary. What is the worse thing that could happen? Sure, you might open yourself up to some spam, but we all get some spam anyway. This is just the nature of the world we live in. Delete it and be done with it. You never know who MAY see it.

      My belief is that if you make it too difficult to contact you or don’t put enough information out there, you’ve limited yourself.

      Thank you for sharing this point of view! Definitely worth discussing and thinking about!

  • Lilian April 22, 2011, 2:41 am

    Really good case! Adding some recommendations :

    – Being seen as a professional/an expert in a subject to collaborate with, not feeling like a “job beggar”; this is where having a strong digital presence (with great content and initiatives) could help
    – Doing some research on the person we’d like to connect with (in order to customize and be specific)
    – Not looking for a savior. The person may have winning insights but not necessarily strong job leads
    – Keeping it as short as possible while clearly describing “professional goals” (as you mentioned, people are busy and the message has to be worthy)
    – Thinking ‘relationships’ not ‘transactions’ (the Linkedin message is an opportunity to start interacting for the long-run)
    – Listing all the digital presences of that person to get several points of contact (a conversation could start on Twitter, on a FB fan page, on a Linkedin group…); maybe a networking event could be spotted. Then, it could be an opportunity to directly have a face-to-face catchup and to smoothly interact

    • Hannah Morgan April 22, 2011, 7:31 am


      I love all your points!

      Your last point is really interesting and a great reason people should be using social networking tools! It is so much easier to enter into conversation with someone on Twitter. And who knows what intelligence you may be able to gather from reading other social networking updates!

      Thanks Lilian!