Every week, my “Invitations” inbox is jam packed with invitations to connect. Lovely. People like me. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.
But would you kindly explain to me who the fuck you are and why you’re jamming up not just one, but TWO of my inboxes with your requests? By the time I get that little notification in my real inbox that you’d “like to add me to your professional network on LinkedIn,” I now have two messages to delete instead of one.
And frankly, you’re wearing me out.
So today, you’re getting a Bitch Slap about how to use LinkedIn and do something as simple as asking someone to join your network. And for all that is holy, it’s time for you to stop being a jackass and wasting everyone else’s time — and your own.
Stop Being Lazy
First, LinkedIn makes it way too easy for us to just click a button and “add people to our professional networks” — but that’s no excuse for you to act like an ass monkey about it and abuse the capability.
When you make the bold move to connect with someone, ditch the lame and lazy default LinkedIn message that’s sent with your request. All that tells someone is you couldn’t be bothered with explaining to them how you know them and why they should consider your request to connect. And let’s be honest: you don’t know 75% of the people sending these generic LinkedIn requests to your inbox, do you?
So quit sending them to mine!
If you can’t be bothered to explain to me HOW I know you, I can’t be bothered to respond to your request to connect. Your lame ass, generic LinkedIn request to connect holds just as much meaning as inviting me to your drum circle (I hate drum circles), an invitation to wash your car on Saturday (I don’t even wash my own car), or an invitation to run through a field of bees wearing a blanket of flowers with stamens and pistils heaving with pollen.
They’re all filed under Shit That Isn’t Going to Happen.
And if you think it’s hard, it’s NOT. Yesterday, I guest lectured at The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston. It’s one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the nation. EVERY LinkedIn request I received from those students explained to me:
- Who they are
- That they saw me speak at U of H.
- How I might remember talking to them, whether they’d be having office hours with me when I return today, or something they remembered from my talks.
Their average age was in their early 20s. What’s your excuse?
Truth be told, I don’t want to ever “join someone’s professional network on LinkedIn”. I don’t give a shit about your professional network and I don’t delude myself into thinking you give two frog’s fine ass hairs about mine. So if you’re going to ask, you’d better make it good.
On that note, some requests always come from people you’ve known forever — professionally — and they really need no introduction. The funny thing is that those requests are actually some of the most well-crafted requests I ever receive.
“I’d like to add you to my armada so I can one day sink your battleship. Figuratively speaking, of course. I think. Do you own a battleship?”
“Why the fuck aren’t we already connected on LinkedIn? I’ve eaten dinner at your house.”
“Erika, the time has come in our 3-year relationship to ask: will you be my LinkedIn connection? To pimp and promote, to whore article links and share job postings, till severance package (or other exit strategy) we part?”
What Do You Want From Me?
If you don’t know someone and you’re going to be ballsy enough to weasel your way into their professional world, sack up and explain what you want from them. And remember — we’re not interested in “joining your professional network”.
When you send a request to connect, tell the person what they can hope to get out of making that connection.
And yes — it’s IS a game of What’s In It for Me. You’re coming into two of my inboxes and asking me for my time. While you might think it’s a small ask, asking for me to let you inside the world of people I consider to be colleagues is not a small ask. Some people don’t treat their networks that way, but many do.
Explain what you want and what’s in this proposed digital relationship for the person on the other side of your ask.
For. Fuck’s. Sake.
Whoa There, Nelly! Ease Up With the Asks!
I consider it an incredible gift to be able to travel and speak as part of my living. Through those activities, I meet a ton of amazing people all over the world.
But seeing someone speak at a conference — or hearing them on a webinar, podcast, or reading an article they wrote — doesn’t mean you can use their LinkedIn inbox as a workaround to compensating them for what they do for a living.
Here’s a list of shit that can stop on LinkedIn, and pronto:
- The Novellas: Stop dumping into the inbox of someone you don’t know with your life’s history, timeline of your amazing business idea, or plea for help.
- The General Vomit: Stop it with the vague asks on oh-so-general business subjects.
- The Uber Ask: Unless you have explicit permission, stop it with the “I’m going to use LinkedIn to avoid paying for a consulting session” routine. I can’t explain how much free advice I’m asked to offer. And unless I’ve offered to give it to you (like I did with the students at U of H yesterday who couldn’t get a session during my office hours today on account of my slots being booked full), dumping your scenario into someone’s inbox with the hopes of “picking their brain” is rude. Just. Plain. Rude. Ask for permission. And if someone is valuable enough to have in your “professional network”, why don’t you respect them enough to compensate them for their expertise and insight?
Everyone in your LinkedIn network gets up and goes to work in the morning to do work for which they are paid. Even nonprofits pay their employees. LinkedIn messages and connection requests aren’t workarounds designed to help you avoid paying someone for at least an hour of their time. And whatever that hour of time costs — isn’t your career, happiness, and reputation worth it?
So Stop It
And I get it — not everyone takes their LinkedIn account as seriously as I do. I also need to be a bit less liberal about the requests I accept.
But whomever you’re reaching out to, please stop wasting their time.
Buttons that are easy to click shouldn’t always be clicked.
Not everyone wants to be your digital friend.
If you’re going to make the ask and fill up TWO of someone’s inboxes, don’t be a lazy motherfucker and insult that person with one of LinkedIn’s generic “OMGBEMYFRIENDLOL” messages.
Oh — and don’t say you’ve “done work together” at your company if you haven’t really. That shit just pisses me off.
Maybe we could all start viewing LinkedIn as the next level in our careers — a way to see what people are doing professionally, beyond the pithy quotes and Instagramed food shots. I see it as an RSS feed of thought. I do more thinking with the content I see shared on LinkedIn and within my LinkedIn groups than any other social network in my repertoire.
And if you want in on some of that, it damn well better be worth my time.
So stop wasting mine with your lamesauce. And stop wasting yours by sending out a slew of “connection” requests without rhyme or reason.
For all I know, you’re the clerk at my dry cleaner. And while he’s hilarious and a super nice person who makes my clothes all kickass before I head out on business trips, I don’t really need him in my “professional network”.
You’ve been slapped. Now stop acting like a LinkedIn ass monkey and get some fucking work done.