The Challenge of Writing One Original Sentence.

I was having an interesting discussion recently on LinkedIn about whether or not you accept people who invite you to connect with no personal message other than “I would like to add you to my network on LinkedIn.”

Apparently in the eyes of some, ignoring this message is egotistical. That we’re passing up potential opportunities for business. That we’re navel-gazing and only care about ourselves.

How dare we get so high and mighty to ignore the invitation from a faceless person who has no ability to write one original sentence other than the template given.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Are we being social or are we social networking? There’s a difference. Because if we’re striving to create satisfying, mutually beneficial relationships, the initiating party should show they give a damn beyond collecting one more name. This is kind of like the person who comes up to me at a networking event, talks 100% about what they do, gives me a business card and then leaves (I swear this has happened to me more than once and it’s probably happened to you).

Here’s the next argument: “You need to be clear about who you want to deal with in your intro.” Ah, but I do. And yet, I still get these blanket intros. Which is expected when you have millions of people on a social network, I suppose. But this is about taking back ownership and control of your circle of who you want to deal with and who you don’t. And somehow, saying “No” to a person who makes absolutely no effort to show they value your acceptance of the introduction one way or another is…being snobby? Really?

“I saw your website.”

“I read your book.”

“I read your profile.”

“I’m a friend of ____.”

“We share a Group.”

“I’m a Chicago Bears fan like you.”

ANYTHING. This is…hard? This is considered expecting too much of people?

Well, put me in the camp of greater expectations of my fellow man and woman. On LinkedIn and elsewhere.

I’d say the people who accept everyone and anyone need to re-evaluate themselves and their relationships more. It’s not being snobby. It’s part of being a professional. It’s part of striving to achieve strategic partnerships instead of being Connection Collectors.

Deeper business relationships aren’t born from a template.

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5 thoughts on “The Challenge of Writing One Original Sentence.

  1. Dan,
    I receive these invites too. And I send them. My rule of thumb are as follows:

    If it’s someone I really know outside of LinkedIn, I think nothing of sending and accepting invitations using the default.

    If it’s someone I’ve met recently, and I want to connect, I’ll include a note and remind him/her where we met.

    If it’s someone I don’t really know, but I kind of know who s/he is and I see some benefit to linking, I check to see if s/he has looked at my profile. If not, ignore.

    If it’s clearly spam, that one’s easy.

    As a general comment though, I agree. It’s lazy and impersonal just to use the default.

    • Thanks Tim. I think you found a bit of a loophole in the first example – it’s harder to be annoyed by the default IF you’ve already met or spoken with the person. In that instance, I would give that person a pass because contact has been previously established. I personally still try to write something anyway, but that’s my preference. The bigger deal is when no previous interaction has been made and you get the default only.

      What I don’t think people realize about all this in the bigger picture is that it’s bad for LinkedIn to have a growing number of default intros. The more of these we have, the more the overall quality of interactions goes down. LinkedIn then grows a reputation as a “place where I have my profile but I’m getting hit up with spam all the time from people I don’t know.” The usage goes down. In that event, LI can tout the millions of users all they want. It doesn’t matter if it reaches this point because it becomes 1/2 used, 1/2 profile graveyard. This has big implications for the future of LI. And probably why they need to constantly come up with an evolution of features that people find useful for interactivity. We’ll watch and see, won’t we?

  2. Hello Dan. I’m the person who started that thread on LINKEDIN and I’m amazed how long that discussion has gone on. I worded it specifically to attract attention by using the “Are you kidding me?” phrase. Although I do accept some generic invites, they usually tend to be the people who are in a business that I can help or one that can help me. I actually do accept many generic invites and when I do, I always respond immediately with a message thanking them for adding me to their network and asking how I can help them. What’s even more amazing than the information lacking invite itself is that I rarely ever receive a response back to my message, offering to help! Glad to read your blog! All the best.

    • And a great thread it is, Bill. What stirs it up for me is this “Hey, you never know what could happen so you should accept everyone who comes along” line of thinking. If someone wants to accept the template invite, fine, but on the basis of “you never know,” this is a load of garbage. I just don’t think you want to look back at your thousands of connections and wonder who the hell half of them are. Striving for depth, even one sentence depth, is fighting the good fight in my opinion.

      “Oh, but I’m just SO busy.” That you don’t have time to write one sentence? HA! We’re all busy! What a lame excuse. I love it when people think they’re the special cases of busy-ness that put them above all others. Fact: Relationships take WORK. Personally and professionally. You can’t phone it in and expect great things to rain down from the sky.

      • You’re right… we’re all busy. But the truly effective and influential professionals make the time for what’s important. It bugs me when someone in my network responds to being late or not delivering with the excuse that they were busy. Because I’m human and because occasionally I show up late for a meeting, respond late to a message or miss a deadline, I’m sure to say that it was because I didn’t prioritize well or didn’t manage my schedule/workload well. Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That’s why I make it a priority to respond to everyone who contacts me and to do it as quickly as I can. I’m amazed by the number of people who don’t respond to my emails and calls, or do it weeks or month later. Those who respond in a reasonably timely fashion are those I keep close to my network and those I’m ready to help when they need.

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