How to say no thank you in LinkedIn

A student of mine asked me this question today, “How do I decline a LinkedIn connection from someone I do not know, or who misrepresents themselves in the connection invitation?”

With the continued growth of LinkedIn and as we grow our individual connections, this problem will increase.  I suggest that we know how to respond and be consistent in our response to this issue.

To help you better understand the problem, here are a few examples of inappropriate direct connection invitation.

1) colleagues at a previous (or current Job), but not true
2) incorrectly stating you went to the same college
3) incorrectly saying you worked together at different companies
4) indicating that you are friends, yet you have not broken bread together or laughed together

Another inappropriate connection invitation is using the “Other” option & email address (usually from a mutual contact), or the mutual “Group” option without a clear, transparent and honest reason in the message. 
(Note – there should always be a clear, honest & transparent reason for the connection in the message.)

I live by this edict, “Networking is the act of finding, developing and nurturing relationships that mutually move people forward thru life.”  This edict is the essence of building relationships and good relationships start with honesty and trust.

Therefore, I do not want to start a relationship thru a new LinkedIn connection that is not honest.  

If I think there could be any benefit making the LinkedIn connection, I “Reply without accepting” and clarifying any mistakes.  I ask how we really know each other and how they think I can I help them.

Example – “Hello Betty CPA, your connection invitation indicates we went to the same school. I did not go to that school.  Maybe you clicked on the wrong Teddy Burriss.  If not, how do we know each other?  Also, how do you think I can help you?”

Sometimes this response clears up any mistakes.  Sometimes it uncovers the truth for the connection invitation, honest or not.  

After the reply, I decide if there is any benefit to the connection.  If there is a benefit, I accept the connection request with a little less trust & respect for my new connection.

With or without the messaging, if I see no mutual benefit to the connection, I follow the steps listed in the LinkedIn “Accepting or Declining Invitations” FAQ and go about my day.

Author: tlburriss

I am a Networking Strategist and LinkedIn coach and Trainer. I live by my personal edict, "Networking is finding, developing and nurturing relationships that mutually move people forward thru life." I want to help people become better Networkers and better LinkedIn users focused on their business and career goals.

2 thoughts on “How to say no thank you in LinkedIn

  1. To your point…

    The advent of social media has everyone scrambling to find the best way to communicate socially as well as professionally. Random hits from people you don’t know are inevitable. To a degree, I try to accommodate most requests that I receive but common sense always prevails.

    Frankly, I have a problem with multiple feeds. I mean, how many ways to we need to express ourselves? What’s wrong with good old email? Email is the new snail mail! I don’t understand why I need to message someone through Facebook or Twitter, or both, when everyone I know has a Smart Phone. One way or another, my email is going to reach its destination and with the same expediency.

    My advice to others in search of best practices is to develop a strategy that integrates networking efforts. I use traditional email, Facebook and LinkedIn – period. I check my Twitter feed daily; but, I’m not on 24/7. I don’t feel the urge to document every nano-second of my life. However, I do need to maintain a competitive edge and make every effort to prioritize these resources accordingly. Lately, I have ramped up my LinkedIn activity because it has become increasingly difficult to connect with business, industry and community leaders otherwise; everyone is faced with the same issue. How much is too much? However, as I continue to increase my presence on LinkedIn, I connect, or attempt to connect, with people that I have either done business with or those that would benefit from a relationship with me. When I request a connection, I always send a personal reference message. It’s just good form. Like anything else, you need a system, a strategic plan, that will facilitate effective outcomes.

    Thanks for this timely discussion.

  2. Great post on a topic I’ve grumbled about to myself before. As many of us have, I’m sure, I’ve had numerous experiences with strangers sending me a request indicating we’re friends. A few times I’ve done as you said here and inquired into why they were seeking me out as a connection. Most of the time the responses were one sentence (and not always a complete one), such as “you’re into marketing.”

    I feel like a lot of people probably accept those types of requests anyway because they think having a larger number of connections makes them look impressive or more relevant. Linkedin isn’t a popularity contest, and having hundreds of connections you don’t know and will probably never interact with gains you nothing.

    My knowing you, Teddy, is however an example of the power of networking through such mediums. I was recommended to introduce myself to you by a mutual friend, and luckily for me I followed the rules and was forthright about my seeking. 🙂

    Thanks for illuminating a much needed discussion topic!

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