Yesterday I spent more time than I care to think about, catching up with invitations to connect on LinkedIn. If they had been from people I know well it would have been an easy exercise, yes or no. But they weren’t – or at least they weren’t from people I felt I knew well enough, yet, to be able in good conscience to refer on to one of my more closely connected friends or family. And it’s especially problematic when, as some did, people use a LinkedIn boilerplate invitation.

And as I’ve written here before, for example in this post last September, my response is to seek some further information. I had said in that post that my response would be a two liner:

Happy to consider the possibility of connecting on LinkedIn in due course.

Can I ask what you know about me and where you might see some mutuality?

But I decided yesterday that was a bit blunt, especially as several invitations had been hanging around for a while.

So I set up a little spreadsheet and put in the names and details of outstanding invitations. Then, starting with the most recent invitation, I studied their LinkedIn profiles for matters of potential common interest, sent a personal email to each, in which I explained my need to have a conversation (however virtual that might need to be) before connecting and expressed the hope they would favour such a conversation.

From seven emails sent out around this time yesterday, I now have four very friendly and informative replies which are certainly in the ‘yes, I would like to have a conversation’ class. I think 4 out of 7 responding in 24 hours, and all positive, is a really good rate of response. I will report further here when I hear – or don’t – from the remaining three. And I am encouraged to send some more responses out today – yes, I do have a backlog!

For anyone wanting to have a focused, efficient process for their LinkedIn based networking activity, I highly recommend Scott Allen’s monthly tutorial series, which he kicked off last week with a challenging post, Practicing LinkedIn, Part 1 – Monthly. The challenge he issues, for those of us who want to use LinkedIn more successfully, is to actually have a strategy and a plan for that, and be disciplined in following the plan.

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