Connecting on LinkedIn Is Easy: The Real Work Comes After Connecting

This past couple of weeks I have had conversations with three connections of mine bemoaning the fact that their connections are unresponsive. They send messages and get no replies. What gives? What are they doing wrong?

Usually, it’s nothing. These folks are smart enough to know not to be spamming their connections with sales pitches and they are not be wasting their time sending messages to people who rarely use LinkedIn.  

What they are doing isn’t really wrong, it’s just ineffective by itself. What they are suffering from is a mismatch between what their idea of a “connection  relationship” is, and their connection’s idea of the same.

Over the past twelve to eighteen months a lot of LinkedIn users have gone from what I think of as “tight” LinkedIn networks – connections that they really do know well, or at least are in their industry – to connecting more freely and widely. I am not sure why this is, but the results are LinkedIn connections who have gone from active relationships to “maybe we will need each other’s help at some point.”

The result? You may be connected to some really good people, but you don’t have a relationship with them. And you shouldn’t assume that they think because you are now connected that you do, right now, have a relationship.  

So where does that leave you? Well it leaves you doing all the work you used to do in order to get someone to connect with you, except you are now doing this work after you are connected. You have to get on their radar and establish your credibility. Here are four ways you can do so.

Be visible, be active. Show them your value by publishing and commenting on LinkedIn. One of the advantages of being connected is that your activity has a greater chance of being seen by a connection than a non-connection.  

Be there when they are visible or active. If they comment, share or publish content on LinkedIn, comment on it, like it or reshare it. This increases your visibility, and they should appreciate your engagement.

Share content specifically with them. Show that you are thinking of what their problems are and that you are a possible resource.

And keep sending them the odd message, with an emphasis on what you have to offer.

Finally, recognize that not everybody you connect with shares your idea of what a connected relationship should be. There are people who don’t see or use LinkedIn the same way you do. Let them go and move on to the people that are on the same LinkedIn wavelength that you are.  

 

Clues That A LinkedIn Profile Is A Fake

 

Last week I received an invitation to connect on LinkedIn from the person above. Let’s go over all the clues that this is not a real person:

1) The person has an absurdly low number of connections. Actually she had one when she invited me to connect, and had added a second before I could take this screen capture. This is a classic case of a profile not passing the smell test. Human Resources people use LinkedIn more than any other occupation. According to this person’s school and work history, they have been employed full time for four years. How many HR people on LinkedIn do you know with two connections?

2) Someone who is in human resources in Brazil would logically want to connect with people in, I don’t know…maybe Brazil? Nope. This person immediately figured in order to advance her career in HR in Brazil that a person in Toronto was the optimal person to connect with.

3) It almost goes without saying that the invitation to connect did not include a personalized note.

By the way, LinkedIn deserves all the credit in the world for this: within one hour of my reporting this person their profile had been removed by LinkedIn. The downside is that I didn’t have enough time to get a screen cap of her experience sections….

4) Fourth indicator that this was a fake?No job descriptions, just a listing. No Summary at all. I am always skeptical of people who want to connect who have really “thin” profiles.

5) Odd time sequences for jobs. Often you will see fake profiles with job dates left out, or apparent full time jobs overlapping (you worked for Oracle and IBM at the same time for a year? That’s impressive.) This is just sloppiness giving them away. In the case of this person’s “current” job, there were no dates at all.

6) In the example above, the photo belongs to someone else. I ran this one through TinEye (a browser extension which will look for a photo on the web) and TinEye showed me this photo being used six times in other places.

7) And does anyone else think a field of flowers as a background banner is an interesting choice for an HR professional?

The bottom line? Just look for the incongruities. They are there. Fake profiles often have pieces that by themselves look okay, but when combined together just don’t present a coherent narrative.

Oh, and the last reason I knew this was a fake? It’s a bit of a cheat but….

8) The young lady in question says she got an undergrad degree in HR at the University of Sao Paulo, and then she traveled to Canada and got a Masters degree at Upper Canada College. In what can only be an incredible coincidence, I also attended Upper Canada College.

It was my high school.

Stay safe out there.

Should You Send “Blind” LinkedIn Invitations To Connect?

Maybe not. Let me see if I can persuade you may be heading for a brick wall.  

I define a blind invitation as one that comes in out of the blue. The recipient is not aware of the inviter’s existence until the invitation to connect arrives. Sometimes the invitation to connect is personalized, but often the personalizing isn’t very imaginative, just a bland “We share ten connections so we should be connected too” type of thing.

Some aspects of the blind connection request you should take into account:

They can leave you waiting…and then what do you do?

Someone receives your invitation, reads your personalized plea to connect and goes, “meh”, and does nothing. But you don’t know that, you’re waiting for a reply.

Did they reject your invitation?

Did they just put it aside for a couple of days?

Did they turn it down?

Welcome to Limbo, population: you  

They can turn you down…with extreme prejudice

Someone you invite to connect has the option of not only declining your request, but telling LinkedIn they declined because they don’t know you. Collect enough of these “I Don’t Knows” and LinkedIn will restrict your account. Even worse, LinkedIn will not warn you if have collected any “I Don’t Knows” or how many.

Having your account restricted means having to know and provide the email address as part of any connection requests you make from now on. I had this happen to me early in my time on LinkedIn when I sent invitations to connect to customers of a company I used to work with. Apparently I remembered them a lot better than they remembered me. It took a lot of explaining with LinkedIn in order  to get my privileges restored.

LinkedIn appears to be changing the focus from a finite number of invitations to your overall invitation success rate

LinkedIn used to allow you a certain number of lifetime invitations to connect. A few years ago this number was rumored to be three thousand and in the past couple of years it was rumored to be five thousand. If you reached the invitation cap, you were cut off from inviting more people and you had to go and grovel with LinkedIn to get an extra fifty invites at a time to use.

Now it seems that “negative feedback” matters more than absolute numbers. In the LinkedIn help section, the references to a hard cap seem to have disappeared. Instead, LinkedIn says you can be “limited from inviting more members” if too many of the people that you invite to connect either ignore you or report you. So it is not just “I Don’t Knows” anymore. Even well written and personalized invitations to connect are not immune to being ignored.

Blanket acceptance of invitations is being taken advantage of

There was a “sweet spot” in late 2016 and early 2017 when a lot of people would accept connection requests pretty easily. Being rejected was something you really didn’t have to worry about. So blind invitations became a popular strategy for sales people. But the pendulum seems to have started swinging back again as too many people have used easy connection acceptance as a way to immediately bombard those new connections with sales pitches. Even more insidious, these connectors would immediately – and without permission – add those new connections to their email lists and the Spam those poor connections outside of LinkedIn too.

I think this has the potential for connection requests to be not accepted as easily as they were just a few months ago. And there are other potential problems with this as well:

  • If LinkedIn users start thinking of their connections as pests, maybe they will start ignoring messages from connections.
  • Maybe the pendulum swings too far the other way and LinkedIn members start accepting fewer and fewer connection requests.  
  • Or maybe to avoid spam, more LinkedIn members start using a “special” email address for LinkedIn. One that they never bother checking.

While these latter three may seem improbable, the idea of them happening would probably give LinkedIn a case of the cold sweats. So my guess is at some point LinkedIn will really clamp down on invite abusers.

The takeaway here? Don’t take inviting someone to connect for granted. If you are inviting ten people to connect and getting four acceptances, maybe it is time to re-think this strategy. Someone accepting your invitation shouldn’t be an open question, it should be close to a given. Keep your invitation acceptance rate up.