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LinkedIn is simply a tool to use to develop and nurture your network. As a tool, you have to determine how you will use it. You are the operator.
I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
What does this message tell the receiver? Who is this “Sarah”? How do I know her? Why do I want to connect with her?
Do not use the default invitation message. It is bland and defeats the whole purpose of developing and nurturing. It says nothing about “why” you want to add this person to your network.
Jason Alba’s dvd shows how you can customize the section of your profile for “contact settings”. It also explains why. You should consider listing your connection criteria or rules here for all to see and understand. As an inviter, you should read and see what, if any, rules/conditions are listed for the person you want to invite. Besides the basic billeted ways in which I am open to connecting, I state in my Contact Settings:
I will gladly connect with people I know. I am more than happy to accept twitter followers at http://twitter.com/careersherpa.
I could and probably should go one step further and state that in order for me to know someone, I have to have met them face to face or had significant interaction via phone.
There are many good posts on LinkedIn manners. Here are just some I found to be helpful:
4 Tips for LinkedIn Professional Etiquette, CareerRocketeer
And from JobMob’s recent listing of 93 Most Popular(4 about LinkedIn)