Linkedin is a great place for networking and expanding your business contacts. Approach it in the wrong way, however, and you could find yourself banned as a result of people reporting your connection requests as spam.
Imagine you are at a networking event and a total stranger comes up to you and asks for your business card. He does not introduce himself or say why he wants it. You then notice he is going around the room doing the same to everyone else. What would be your impression of that person’s intention?
Now there could be a totally innocent explanation but it is reasonable to assume that the person is not interested in networking at all. You will just be another name on a list to spam to death with unwanted newsletters and email offers!
The equivalent on Linkedin is sending a connection request to someone you do not know with no details other than the standard default. People who do this risk getting banned from Linkedin if enough people hit the “Report Spam” button.
Sending a default Linkedin connection request to someone you know really well is not a problem. The problem arises if you have never met other person or they need help remembering who you are and where you met. For example, you went to school together 30 years ago.
Even if you have never met the person offline, you can still seek to connect based on being a member of the same group or you have something in common – just like you would do offline. Do make sure you write something in the connection request to start a dialogue. For example:
We are both members of the XYZ group and I liked the post you made the other day. I am often in London and wandered if you would be interested in meeting for coffee sometime
It’s just a case of being sensible and approach networking on Linkedin in the same way as you would an offline networking event.
A word of warning – connecting via the suggested links on Linkedin does not, at the time of writing, give you the ability of tailoring the connection request. If you don’t know the person then make sure you send the connection request in the normal way via their Linkedin profile or you could find yourself getting a stern warning from Linkedin management.