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.