The Weird LinkedIn Request Prejudice

LinkedIn default connection prompt

LinkedIn default connection prompt

I hear a very common refrain from LinkedIn users. “I refuse to connect with people who send me the default LinkedIn connection request!”

I never understood that. I’ve listened to their logic, “If they can’t bother to spend two minutes customizing it, then I can’t be bothered to connect.”

First off, I call BS that. If the hiring manager for your dream job sent it, you would gladly accept. If a long targeted customer sent it, ditto.

Second, sometimes LinkedIn just sends the request without giving you the option. Two examples are the iPhone app and when you choose people in your email contact list.

Honestly I cringe every time I hear someone say that. I usually have to fight off my snap judgment of the person saying it as an overly judgmental stick in the mud who should judge each request based on the opportunity, not the message.

LinkedIn is such a powerful tool, why are you limiting yourself in any way?

I dare you to give me a compelling reason for ignoring any request that comes through with the default message?

By the way, are we connected on LinkedIn yet?


  1. First off Phil – I challenge your use of the word “Bigot”. A bigot is a “a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.” Seems a little strong for a social network, don’t you think?

    The word “snob” is a little closer: “a person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding this field.” Still not the right word for the situation you describe.

    How about elitist? “(…a person or class of persons) considered superior by others or by themselves, as in intellect, talent, power, wealth, or position in society.” If your concern is people setting too high a bar for connection or withholding a connection based on an expectation of good manners, then you are on the right track.

    Semantics aside – I think you ask a fair question: should you connect with everyone who requests a LinkedIn connection, especially if they send an “auto” connect that does not include a a personal message? How you use a social network is a personal choice. Would you say that people should only Tweet one kind of message in Twitter? Some people are all business, some all personal and some mix it up. There’s no one correct way to use a social network.

    I use LinkedIn as a professional network to increase exposure for my company, myself and local nonprofits I believe in. I also use the connections I have made to make introductions for people. If I have no clue who a person is or anything about them, then where is the value of the connection?

    Yes, there is a certain elitism in accepting connections of perceived benefit to you even if you don’t know them. And if LinkedIn’s free version allowed you to send a message to a connection request you could establish a rapport before the connection is made. Once connected, however, either party can send a message. So I wonder why so few people do send a note thanking the connection.

    My choice is not to be an “open networker” but I am open to those who make a effort to acknowledge the value of a connection. I also like to believe that I practice good manners in how I extend and accept connections.

    • I will admit that bigot may be a bit strong, but it makes for a much stronger headline don’t you think?

      • Now you are just saying that you wrote an article and a headline just to get attention. Do you feel that strongly about what you wrote? Do you have such a strong antipathy toward people who chose to think twice before accepting a blind LinkedIn connection?

  2. I am glad to link to anyone who asks and I never think either my Facebook or Linkedin heard unless I get spammed. My thinking is any connection is positive, any connection is better than not being connected. LinkedIn cost is as close to zero as it gets since I feed it from and I’ve used it to find friends and friends of friends who can help on projects. Anytime something costs so much less than its benefits I do the deal (lol).

    I use the default form mostly. I modify a little, but never more than 10%. It isn’t a question, to me, of “taking the time” to modify the form. It is the desire to keep my LinkedIn cost as close to zero as possible. There form is pretty good and it works for me. Those “bigots” or whatever you want to call them that are somehow offended I didn’t modify the form have self selected out of my network and that is just fine with me :).

    Life is short. Those who opt out for such a silly reason were never going to help me or allow me to help them much anyway. This silly behavior reminds me of the kind of elitism I’ve witnessed many times growing up in Greenwich and attending prep school. There is always a group that believes they are beyond special. This group is usually self reinforcing and goofystupid, but if they make the sale you will kill yourself to join since they’ve used game theory to make you think something that doesn’t matter does.

    I’m older now and less impressionable so I’m glad to include anyone doing anything in anyway into my network. I help anyone who asks to the best of my limited abilities and I’ve learned how to ask for help since no one does anything alone anymore. You get back what you send out or, as the Beatles sang, in the end the love you take is equal to the love you create (not the exact lyric but you get the idea :).

    Seems goofystupid to NOT include someone because of a form.


  3. It seems everyone has their own guideline for connecting on LinkedIn. For me, it’s usually that I’ve met face to face at least once (a basic “not crazy” test). In contrast, I know some people who’ll connect with anyone, and I some people who won’t connect with anyone they haven’t had a meal with.

    If I’ve met someone, I’ll connect even if they send a generic LinkedIn connection request. If someone sends a generic request and we seem to have nothing in common (like when I got a generic request from an asphalt paving contractor in Minnesota), I’ll just ignore.

    • Karl – I chuckled over the “not crazy” test remark. Felt much the same way when I was doing online dating and blind dates. Date #1 was always do you pass the “not crazy” test. :)

  4. Matt Nowak says:

    If I don’t know the person “offline,” I’ve met all my connections through Twitter. The connections in the latter category were created through valuable conversations on both our ends. I’m a believer in quality over quantity anyways, so I always want to continue that value on other social networks. If both people cannot find value in spreading that conversation through various networks, online and offline, there’s really no point in cultivating that relationship.

  5. I’m in the same school of thought as Karl and prefer to have met someone at least once in person before connecting on LinkedIn. The “not crazy” factor he mentioned is part of it, and I find it’s helpful to have an understanding of how both parties can mutually benefit from the connection.

    When I do receive a “blind” request (i.e., no customization of the intro e-mail), I dig a little to see if I have anything in common such as mutual connections, LinkedIn Groups or professional/alumni associations. If I see some common ties, I generally accept the request. Generally nothing comes of it as far as spamming is concerned, but I don’t know how I can help this person other than being another link in their network.

    You raise an excellent point about situations of the A-list customer or recruiter who may reach out to you. And in that case, it’s a no-brainer that you would connect and actively follow up with those individuals.

    Great topic, and thanks for putting it out there for discussion!

  6. when I started using LinkedIN (when it wasn’t much more than a new, less irritating version of Plaxo), I disliked generic invites myself and always customized my invites, at least to reference the event, etc. where we met or last saw each other if the person is an acquanitance more than a friend or business associate. As other social network/media platforms have come along with different ways to connect, I’ve gotten over it – as far as I’m aware, there’s never been a way to customize your Facebook friend requests and Twitter doesn’t even require the reciprocity that comes with Facebook & LinkedIn, so I generally agree that there’s no reason a person should feel obligated to customize their LinkedIN invites.

    I do feel, however, that customizing the invite to acquaintances (or to people you’ve never met in person or never interacted/communicated with online) is still very important – in this scenario, the LinkedIN connection invite is essentially the recipient’s first impression of the sender – whether an accurate impression or not, to me it’s not a positive first impression.

    I get regularly receive invites from people I’ve never met or interacted with and the invites are always generic, like they just went down the list of suggestions on their iphone app and hit “invite” to every suggesting LinkedIn made to them. I’m not a “LION” LinkedIN Open Networker, so I usually reject these. Occasionally I connect with some of them out of interest or curiosity on my part and wait to see if they communicate further. For instance, some recent invites are either from engineers at firms that consult to Architecture firms (my business) & would like to work on our projects, or are from architects/interns that state in their profile that they are actively seeking employment, yet I never receive any followup such as their resume, a call or email to see if we might have job openings, etc. (or projects for the engineers) – which doesn’t inspire me to seek them out – if they’re not proactive enough to pursue an obvious opening to network with a possible employer or client, then they’re not going to succeed working in/with my firm.

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