How NOT to be a LinkedIn Loser


Don't Be A LinkedIn Loser

Don’t Be A LinkedIn Loser

There’s a common ”online oops” that many of us are guilty of — and it’s making us “LinkedIn Losers.”

The other day, I received a typical request to connect via LinkedIn – with the all-too-familiar template invitation of:

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
So-and-So has indicated you are a Friend.”

Ho Hum.  Snooze.

Certainly we could do better than this, couldn’t we?

This “invitation to connect” has three main issues:

1.  It’s Impersonal.  
The individual didn’t even bother to type in my name or a greeting, such as “Hi Cathy” or “Dear Cathy” –which would at least make me think the message is not some bulk email they’ve sent to everyone , but rather, a personal message to me.
Strike one!

2.  It’s Generic.
Nothing says “lazy” or “thoughtless” like using the boilerplate template supplied by LinkedIn to connect with people.   I know the “Include a Personal Note” section says “optional”, but you really couldn’t take the 60 seconds or so needed to write a short message about how we might know one another or why you’d like to connect?  Really?!
Strike Two!

3.  It’s Misleading.
When you create an invitation to connect, LinkedIn gives you some options regarding how you might know someone:  
•    Colleague
•    Classmate
•    We’ve Done Business Together
•    Friend
•    Groups
•    Other
•    I Don’t Know This Person.  

“Friend.” ironically, is the only choice that doesn’t require you to input any information that indicates you actually know the person – such as the company where you worked together, the school you both attended, the person’s email address, an online group that you both belong to, etc.  I find more and more that people simply choose the “Friend” option because they DON’T know the person they are trying to connect with.  Chalk it up to being deceitful or just plain lazy.

Interesting Note:  The person who indicated that they were a “Friend” of mine was actually a vendor that I had to discontinue working with due to various issues with their work.  I had heard nothing from them since that time – until this message.

If this person had at least used my name and a personalized message such as “I see you’ve re-branded.  Hope business is going well.” I would have had a much more positive impression and considered connecting with them.    As it was, they didn’t seem to put any thought at all into the connection request, so I assumed it was either a mistake or simply a bulk/generic invitation to connect.

Do Your Reputation a Favor
How you represent yourself and communicate with others online directly affects your reputation.  You don’t want to carelessly damage your reputation because you approached someone online in a sloppy or spammy way.

Nobody wants to receive an impersonal, generic or misleading message from someone they may or may not know online.  Take a few extra seconds to craft a personalized, thoughtful message and you will stand out – in a GREAT way – from the majority of LinkedIn users.

Have any other tips or “pet peeves” about LinkedIn that you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear them!  Leave your comments, tips and suggestions below!

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    Speak Your Mind


  1. Great tips Cathy! I do have 2 other pet peeves to add. Please don’t add me as connection on LinkedIn and then right away start promoting your stuff to me.

    And second, please don’t treat your LinkedIn list as though it were your mailing list. If you want to send me an occasional message to let me know about a free webinar you’re doing to see if it might be of value to me or someone I know, that’s okay. But don’t send me weekly messages (that are clearly to a group) that are promotional.

    Let’s build a relationship first, okay. And let’s treat that relationship with the respect it deserves.

    Whew. I feel better now. Thanks Cathy!!

    • I’m with you on those points, Cindy!

      People seem to forget that social networking sites are for building relationships FIRST! The fastest way to be hidden, deleted or marked as spam is to sell, sell, sell and forget about offering value and getting to know your connections.

  2. I have received several emails like those you mention. I thought it was weird because I did not have a LI profile at the time but did know these people. Later I added the basics to a profile (I haven’t done much to that page) and looked at one of the people I remembered who sent me those messages and that page was as blank as mine. ;-/

    • Patricia,

      With so many social media sites and so much activity on each site, it can certainly be a challenge to keep our profiles complete and up to date. I have to schedule time regularly in my calendar to review my profiles and update them — otherwise, it just doesn’t get done.

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Agreed on all points, Cathy. I think you have summed it up nicely. My peeves with LinkedIn is the groups, where nearly everyone to a generic post with, “Well, in my new e-book…” or “I wrote about this very topic in my blog…” or “As the CEO of a Fortune 100 company…” It’s a lot of posturing and chest-beating that totally turns me off. I have dropped out of most of my LinkedIn groups as result.

    • Jackie,

      The posturing on social media is something I grow weary of daily. I know it’s cliche, but “be real, be you, be authentic” would be so much more enjoyable for everyone!

      Thanks for your input!

  4. Great points Cathy and I know I have been guilty from time to time.. more so in the beginning… I try to add something personal to it nowadays… so true and thanks for the reminder. Business is about building relationships… how can we do them on cookie cutter boring templates, right? Thanks!

  5. I am bad at this too. You are right we need to be better at be more personal. I will definitely remember this when networking with newbies. Thanks.

    • Yakini — newbies and seasoned “networkers” alike make these mistakes. Whether it’s from our hurry to “get it done” or just laziness or ignorance of how it should be done, it’s ALWAYS worth the effort to make our interactions more personable and memorable.

      Thanks for the comment.

  6. Indira Pierrot says:

    This is one of the reasons I am not on LinkedIn yet because I just can’t devote to it the proper way. Do it right or not at all! I agree with you.

    • So true, Indira! Better to dedicate the time and effort to being effective on a social media site rather than making all sorts of blunders and damaging our reputation.

      Thanks for the comment.

  7. Great tips Cathy. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Nicely put Cathy. There are still a lot of people that forget Social Media is about relationships and that first impressions are so important.