I may be wrong and I may be too literal but I think the ‘spirit’ of Linked In is ‘linking’ up and connecting with business associates and friends; a means of networking.
Bearing this in mind there are two ways that LinkedIn users sabotage themselves.
Sabotage #1: The Friend?
The first occurs when a user sends a requests to a ‘prospect’ (someone they haven’t met or spoke to) but indicate themselves as a ‘friend.” Of course, I know that sometimes people want to connect but there is no social or educational or workplace past relationship. One is sometimes forced default to “friend.”
I understand this but what I don’t understand is why the person doesn’t add some sort of introductory comment like, “Jim, we have never met but I have enjoyed your articles and thought we might link up.” At least it is an attempt to create a “social media handshake” rather than make the presumption of being friends. Here is a perfect opportunity to establish some rapport that may pay dividends down the line. Certainly, leaving your request ‘blank’ doesn’t do much for your credibility. Doesn’t leave me feeling warm and snug. How about you? I am left wondering why I should accept the request because the sender has done nothing to endear me to them.
Sabotage #2: An Old Acquaintance, Long Forget
The second way users of Linked In sabotage themselves is when they send a request to an old friend, colleague or classmate without some sort of note or greeting. LinkedIn is for linking up. Use the opportunity to write a note in order to ‘reconnect’: “Jim, it’s been a long time, old friend.” Simply indicating that you were a former co-worker, school buddy or friend seems rather sterile and impersonal. Phony.
Come on man! Conjure up some nostalgia or provide a friendly word. Acknowledge the past relationship. Acknowledge the individual. Not jotting down a single word makes the request seem perfunctory; “I-am-doing-this-because-someone-says-I-should-build-my-network-not-because-of-our-past-association.”
Bottom line? Remember the spirit of LinkedIn. Use the opportunity to ‘link’ with the individual to whom you have sent the request. It takes but a few seconds and could pay dividends.