Linked In is a great networking tool. Sadly, there are plenty of user errors … two of which continue to confound me.
Canned Invitations. I’ve written about this before. Other people have written about it. Sending a canned invitation to someone you don’t know is a networking faux pas. Think about it in offline terms. Would you walk through a networking event handing your business card to anyone and everyone without so much as a “hi, nice to meet you”? Of course not. But that is exactly what you are doing when you refuse to take 30 seconds to personalize an invitation to connect.
Canned invitations are a tip-off to one of two things … you are building your rolodex and you don’t care who you connect with as long as you connect; and/or, you want to use [me] to get to someone to whom I’m connected. Neither of those sends a very positive message.
Recommendation Requests. These requests are perfectly acceptable … if the person from whom you are requesting a recommendation can actually speak to your performance. I was stunned to receive a request from a professional in my network asking for a brief recommendation of his work. Now I know him, but I can’t speak to his work performance. To ask was, in my opinion, extremely unprofessional.
First, anything I said would be a lie because I know nothing. Even if I could craft a couple of vague, general sentences … they would serve him no good purpose. Recommendations … from people you have worked with and trust … are critically important to reinforcing your credibility. Don’t dilute your value with recommendations that are meaningless. Even more importantly, don’t diminish your integrity and credibility by asking for them.
If you are a finance executive and would like to connect with me on Linked In, please send me a personalized invitation. You'll make my day. If you are a CFO and would like to join my CFO Careers group, send me a request to join and I'll happily approve your request.