Hey stranger, let’s connect!

Lately I’ve heard from some “friends” that I didn’t even know I had. Weird, huh? They find me on LinkedIn, and then indicate that I am a “friend” and want to add me to their network.

I get that you want to increase your network. All the experts say to do it now, so you’ll have it in place when you really need it.

You probably chose “friend” because the other options don’t fit: We aren’t classmates, work colleagues and we’ve never done business together. You don’t know my email address (you have to supply that if you choose “other”) and if you choose the last option “I don’t know this person,” well, quite honestly, I don’t know what happens.

So you chose the generic and easy “friend” option.

“John has indicated you are a friend.” And then John uses the default LinkedIn message “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”

But you see, I don’t know who John is.

It’s like going to a networking event, walking up to someone, handing them your business card, then asking them for their business card, and then walking away. You wouldn’t do that, would you?

The least you can do is tell me WHY you want to connect with me, even though we have never met and you have no idea who I am.

A simple “Hey Susan, we both live in the same town, and I’m trying to get to know more people in the area…” or “I see you also work in the financial industry/are a communications person/used to work at an ad agency and I’d like to add to my network…” will work just fine. Even a generic “Hi Susan – hope your summer is going well” at least shows you’ve taken the time to personalize your message. Most likely I will press the “Accept” button.

Maybe LinkedIn should add a “I’ve never met you, but want to connect with you” option and then REQUIRE that you write something in the message box. I bet that would deter some from selecting that “friend” button so quickly.

Don’t get me wrong. I accept invitations from people I don’t know. And I don’t want to sound like some elitist…but can you take an extra 30 more seconds to craft a personalize message instead of using the default LinkedIn language?

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