Several days ago, I accidentally said “yes” to the option to invite my email contacts to connect (contacts on an email address that I’ve had for years, but that I don’t use much for business). And, BAM! 700-some invitations to connect went out.
Oops. Oh, well. No big deal.
Turns out it was a bigger deal than I thought, for two reasons:
1. There is a lifetime limit on the number of invitations to connect that you can send out. Although I can’t find it published on LinkedIn, other sites say the limit is 3000. I just blew through 700+ in one fell swoop.
2. If you get too many “I don’t know this person” responses to your invitations, you can be banned from inviting people to connect if you don’t know their email address. I now have a warning message when I invite someone to connect that I am getting perilously close to the limit (which I have read on other sites is 5):
Please note: This message is a notice that you are nearing the threshold of “I don’t know” responses you can receive before you will be required to enter an email address when sending invitations. Please remember to only invite people you know.
It seems a little bit like entrapment. LinkedIn enticed me to invite my email contacts, and I did (although I actually didn’t mean to), and now I’m getting “punished” for doing so.
I started doing penance by going into my sent invitations, one by one and withdrawing the invitation to connect. After 20 minutes, my wrist was getting sore from the repetitive key strokes and my eyes were getting blurry, so I took a break to read my email.
An email from LinkedIn customer service was in my inbox. While they couldn’t change what had occurred, they did offer to withdraw all my unaccepted invitations (which I gladly accepted).
I also added this little note:
There seems to be an inconsistency in what LinkedIn says people should do (invite to connected with people you know well) and what LinkedIn is allowing to happen way too easily—connecting with people you don’t know who happen to be in your email contact list. This wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t limits on invitations or penalties for the “I don’t know this person” response. Maybe there should at least be a warning before people click through to add everyone in their email contacts.
So, if you didn’t know about the invitation limit or the dangers of connecting with people who might not remember you (or somehow are on your email contacts), now you do!
I asked that question on LinkedIn recently and share the responses below. Add your tips in the comment area!
The answers I’ve received so far generally involve 3 ways of making a connection:
- What’s in common? Mention what you have in common (an interest, a person, work) Do research if necessary.
- Compliment. Give a sincere compliment about something (website, blog, article, etc.)
- Be direct. Say what you want or what you have to offer.
Vitalia Bryn-Pundyk: Common Connections and “Phrases of Flattery”
“Here is what I do when I connect virtually:
When I am on someone’s profile, I look for who else they may be connected with to see if there is someone else I know that we have in common. If there is someone I spot that we have in common and I have not yet connected with them, I just simply remind them how I know them and ask to connect with them. This really helps to expand my networking circle.
If it’s someone I don’t know but would like to get to know, I give them an honest reason why. I comment on what it is about them that I respect, like, or admire. I like to call this ‘Phrases of Flattery”. This flattery must be honest–(anyone can spot a phony miles away). I find that most of the time when you come across genuine in your compliments and show a sincere interest in others, the other individual will respond in kind.”
Ed Estlow: Ditto!
“I simply tell them how I know of them (through whom, or their work in the public arena, etc.), offer a true and heartfelt compliment on their work (only if it really is true), and express a desire to “keep in touch here on LinkedIn/FB/T.
I’ve reached out to several people on both FB and LI that way and so far it’s worked well. I don’t do Twitter much, but then you can follow people there without their active permission.”
Gina Abudi: Find a Common Interest
“I try to find a connection between us – maybe an interest, group we both belong to, an article they wrote that I read, a presentation of theirs I attended, etc. – and use that to break the ice and ask to connect to talk further.”
Chuck Carstensen: Ditto on Finding Something in Common
“I connect based on what we have in common. If I don’t know the person, I connect based on who we know, what we do or common interests we have.”
Lisa Burnside: Depends on the Situation and Do Research!
“That really depends on the situation. However, assuming it is not someone you have met face-to-face nor someone you have been introduced to by someone in common – I would find out what we do have in common and use it to break the ice. Also, I don’t play games and appreciate those that don’t either. So, if there is something I feel I can do for them or something they can do for me, I come right out and state it. Always putting in a compliments about something, picture, website, blog, etc. You should always research those you don’t know before just connecting.”
Trevor Kohlhepp: Touch Base
‘I personally find it best to just touch base with each new contact that I become “friends” with, regardless of the network we found each other on. I often do this with a simple thank you and looking forward to networking message. (Example: “Thank you for the connection Diane, I am looking forward to networking with you and seeing what opportunities come from it!”)
I find this approach to break the ice letting the new contact know that 1, I am a real persona and 2, I am open and available to network with. I often find that if I don’t make this initial message I never hear from the new contact and never have the opportunity to network with them.”
Joe Roberts: Twitter is Easiest
“Twitter is the easiest of the three to “break the ice,” due to the built-in brevity and the “open conversation” nature of the service. I have found that simply responding to a question posed by the potential follower, or re-tweeting and commenting on something they have tweeted, is a good first step at putting yourself on his/her radar screen and building rapport.
It is easy to make yourself both visible and useful to those with whom you want to connect on Twitter, so I’d suggest starting there if that is one of your options.”
Joanne Funch: Be Direct
“How I break the ice is by being pretty direct. I tell people exactly why I have sought them out whether it be for their expertise, learn more about them or their business or as a potential client I’d like to do business with. I believe most professional people respect and honest, straight forward question.”
Henri Vanroelen: Ditto on the No-Frills Approach
“Just explain why you are contacting them. In the on-line world there’s no need to chit-chat in the first contact.”
Tom Butz: Ask Questions and Make Comments
“Questions / comments strike people of different groups in unique ways – know the audience you are seeking and assume no one else is viewing (can’t worry about other’s reactions)
Many, many see but don’t respond – assume there is a silent impact
I find Facebook the most interactive in terms of reaction to postings – Twitter is more like a multi-dimensional news feed and LinkedIn is less reactive
Speak of that which invokes huge passion in you, and it will have a greater chance of impacting others.
Be vulnerable and honest in your communication.”