One of my biggest LinkedIn pet peeves is when people who I’ve never met send me connection requests. Most of them have no personalized message at all (another pet peeve of mine). Some are accompanied by super salesy messages. Others say things like (these are real messages I’ve received):

  • “LinkedIn suggested you as a marketing leader with whom I should connect. if you are open to it.”
  • “I think we can mutually help each other, let’s connect.”
  • “You seem interesting, let’s get to know each other.”
  • “I want to tell you about a terrific new product we have”
  • “Came across your profile here and noticed we had LinkedIn groups in common, was intrigued and would love to connect. I see your an attorney in New York. Excited to learn more about what your up to professionally.” (Just oy vey on this one. Note: I am NOT a lawyer, which is clearly noted on my profile, and the grammar errors with “your” instead of “you’re” are just sloppy – there is no room for careless mistakes here. Also, having “LinkedIn groups” in common is not a reason to send a connection request.)
  • “I developed a method that gives you many leads and more on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and many others in 24 hours! I would love to run a quick test 🙂 What is your PHONE NUMBER?” (Note: So many things wrong with this one as well – but especially the exclamation point, the smiley face and the all caps, not to mention the false promises!)

Um, how about no to ALL OF THESE. Please make it stop.

Let’s be honest, if I’ve never met you before, why would I want to connect with you this way? LinkedIn is a professional network to grow relationships with people you already know. It’s not a place to mine for new connections and find leads, although I know some in the sales profession may disagree with me.

There are very rare cases where I will accept a connection request from someone I have not yet met but only if we are in parallel professional universes and let’s say I am about to speak on a panel with them, we are attending the same conference and hold similar roles, or I know them through mutual acquaintainces, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. This is the clear “I’ve never met you, we have no association with each other and I am blindly reaching out to you” kind of LinkedIn request, which is basically LinkedIn spam.

In the real world, I guess you could equate this to the cold call or going up to someone blindly at an event and starting up a conversation with them. The difference though is that once that interaction is over, it’s over.

With LinkedIn, once you add them to your professional network, they are there for good unless you manually delete them, so it’s a much more permanent action. I think some folks just think it’s okay to invite a stranger to connect with them because of the anonymity of the online world. but it’s not in my opinion. In fact, it can be damaging to your reputation not to mention your ability to use LinkedIn.

You don’t want to be known as “that annoying person” who sent the blind LinkedIn request.

Thankfully you can easily opt out of these requests using the “accept” or “ignore” features in on LinkedIn. When you click ignore, you can go one step further and click on the “I Don’t Know This Person” option, which will send a LinkedIn notification that puts the person in a category of offenders who do this too often. If they send too many connection requests to people who you don’t know over a certain period of time, they will be put on a “naughty list” with various repercussions.

Clicking Ignore/”I Don’t Know This Person” prevents the person you don’t know from sending you another invitation in the future. If someone receives an excessive number (5 to 7) of “I Don’t Know This Person” responses, they could be restricted from sending invitations to connect to others for a period of time while LinkedIn investigates or warns the user to only make requests to people they know, or have a temporary restriction placed on their account, requiring them to enter an email address for all future invites. Why would you ever want to put yourself in this situation?

On the flipside, if you notice that you are asked to enter an email address with every new connection request you make, it likely means that you are the offender with too many declined invitations (hey, it can happen especially when you don’t exactly know how to use the platform and you are feeling excited about upping your number of connections), and LinkedIn has placed a restriction on your account. In order to remove the restriction (which is usually temporary), you’ll need to reach out to LinkedIn Customer Service by email and promise to be more careful with your future invites (it may take a day or two to hear back from them).

I write a lot about how to maximize LinkedIn and use it effectively – see my latest JD Supra articles on LinkedIn profile basics and more advanced LinkedIn to-do’s – because I truly believe in the value of the platform to help build your professional brand and bring in new business. That being said, you must use it wisely. “I Don’t Know This Person” requests are spam, and LinkedIn takes them very seriously, so don’t be that person who sends blind connection requests. Be thoughtful in your connection outreach, as you should be with all of your marketing and business development efforts.