I often get asked about the etiquette of turning people down on LinkedIn; whether it’s a request for a connection, recommendation or introduction, it’s really important for your reputation that you deal with these situations correctly. In this article I share with you my own personal experience and the questions I’ve been asked along the way.
How to decide if you should accept an invitation to connect or not
- Do I know them well enough?
- Can I trust them? By accepting their invitation to connect you’ll normally be granting them access to view your immediate connections.
- Does the addition of this connection strengthen my network?
- Will this person know people that I would benefit from an introduction to?
If you’re answering yes to most of the above, then accept. If you have any no’s creeping in then perhaps you shouldn’t.
Dealing with the invites that you don’t want to accept
It’s OK to say no and it is actually a lot more polite and gracious than simply ignoring an invite. You should also remember that though it might not be the right time to connect now, things may change in the future. The best rejection I ever got was from someone I invited to connect after we had hooked up on Twitter. It went something like this…
I usually only accept invitations to connect from people I have already done business with or by introductions and recommendations from others in my network. However I look forward to reading your Tweets and getting to know you better that way.
I was pleased because Bill took the time to send a response and showed respect for our current relationship on Twitter, which continued to develop to the point where I eventually got an invitation to connect from him.
The point here is that if he had ignored my invitation to connect, it’s highly likely that I would have felt rejected and not continued our conversations on Twitter, and that would have been a big missed opportunity. It’s simple human psychology – we all like to feel valued and none of us like to be ignored.
How to decide if you should give a recommendation or not
People will request recommendations from you. The test here is: would you give them a reference offline for a job or for a tender?
Turning down a request for a recommendation
Don’t be afraid to turn down a request for recommendation, but do it kindly and with a positive attitude. My friend and top blogger Chris Brogan suggested that I use this approach…
I’m honored you asked for a recommendation. Thanks for thinking of me. Because I haven’t worked enough with you professionally, I fear my recommendation wouldn’t be useful.
Honesty really is the best policy, and when I’ve done this I’ve actually had messages back thanking me for taking the time to write. Being up-front like this creates a mutual respect, and strengthens relationships.
How to deal with requests to make an introduction
People will want to get to reach out to a connection of yours by using the LinkedIn introduction tool. I try to help with introductions as often as possible as it creates trust and gratitude within my connections. But often you might not feel it’s appropriate to make an introduction. The test for this is simple:
Do you know the person asking for the introduction well enough to introduce them to your other connections? Can you vouch for them?
Your first instinct is usually the right one when deciding this.
Declining a request for an introduction
If you don’t feel comfortable making an introduction, for whatever reason, then don’t. Hit the decline button, but always decline politely. For example:
“unfortunately, on this occasion, I don’t feel that I’m best placed to help with an introduction…”
Declining an introduction
You’ll no doubt at some point receive an introduction via someone in your immediate connections. The decision to accept is often clean cut, e.g. if someone is offering you a paid engagement or making/offering you a service that you definitely need. But sometimes you will receive an introduction regarding something that is just not a right fit for you.
If you’ve received an introduction but don’t want what they’re selling or are unable to help, don’t just ignore the introduction. Hit the decline button and write a polite note. For example:
“I’m sorry, but on this occasion, I don’t feel that I’m best placed to help you…”
Declining to make or accept introductions
It’s a respect thing; being courteous is just good manners. If someone asks you to make an introduction and there is a practical reason to decline, do so in a timely manner. If you don’t hit the decline button, you’re locking up one of the introductions from the quota of the person who’s asked for the introduction. Anyone with the free LinkedIn account can only make five introductions per year and so they are a valuable commodity, especially as outstanding introduction requests don’t expire for six months.
It’s over to you…
There is no rule book for managing your LinkedIn connections. As with networking face-to-face, try and treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself; be courteous and polite and people will value you all the more for it.
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