linkedin best practicesSocial networks are fast becoming confused and confusing for both the users and the masses at large. Why, with all the guidelines, best practices and tips on success with social media are these muddy waters increasing their reach?

LinkedIn, a tool I have been using since my college days, was and more or less still is primarily for establishing and maintaining professional connections.

I have been receiving a number of requests from people on LinkedIn to add them (as do many of us, I am sure). With my current outstanding count of requests at just over 700, I am really concerned about the sheer lack of discipline employed by users sending those requests...without offering an iota of a reason. This reflects poorly on them.

I have attempted to advise my public network to make sure to take moment and write two simple lines on 'Why you should accept my LinkedIn request' when sending it out to people. LinkedIn offers this option to you when sending a request. There's a reason it's there, so use it. 

It's a professional network of people based on trust and referencing, both of which do not just occur at first contact, but rather require some basis. This could be a pre-existing relationship or a new one that has potential to blossom.

You also are showing the recipient of your request some respect - by taking a second to write a reason for why they should add you to their network. Obviously, you wish to be a part of it, so it's only fair you offer a decent reason, is it not?

A colleague of mine once offered harsh criticism to me for placing a note on my public LinkedIn profile regarding what to consider doing when contacting me, which stated: "Take a moment to write a reason for why you wish to connect with me. If you don't I have no reason to accept it, unless it is obvious right off the bat that we know one another in some capacity - either because we worked together or we know one another personally. It is courteous and professional." This colleague has since then not sent a request to me and that's perfectly fine. The note worked, although the message was construed in the wrong way.  

It's all like a giant social paradox - but we need to make the right steps to make sure we get the most out of our social engagements, especially the ones where our reputation is measured.

(Amendment: Further to a comment below, this snippet is an addition)

Here's how you can add a little note the next time you send a request:

  • When you see recommended connections on your right, you simply click on "See more" and it takes you to a page containing the whole list of recommended connections
  • Beneath each contact box, there is a small icon between "Connect" and "Shared Connections"
  • That's the little guy that needs to be clicked