Today I end what has become one of my living nightmares over the past year: invitations to be connected in LinkedIn.
This has cost me months of procrastination and indecision.
The disquiet resulting from not being able to answer each and every one of these invitations has been such that I've even considered closing down my LinkedIn account. Yes, the account that provided 35% of my annual turnover in 2011 and 20% in 2012. How is it that I'd even consider annihilating something that is profitable for me? Very simple: right now, it only offers me hundreds of requests to be connected, taking up time that I'd rather dedicate to more important things for the people who are really in my reach and for myself, of course.
The pace ran me down
Everything was fine until summer 2012 when I started losing the pace on LinkedIn: the time taken by actively taking part in groups, taking an interest in my network and contacting six or seven people with whom I considered I should be connected every week. Also, the time dedicated to personally and humanly answer everyone who had invested their time in sending me a connection request, regardless of whether they had sent a 'template' message or whether they bothered answering back after that. I continued doing it. I believe in human relations as the basis for the social web.
The more you connect, the more multiple connections you get
More and more invitations kept coming. I tried to use the weekends to answer between 60 and 100 invites. However, the more I accepted, the more I answered, the more new invitations I'd receive. This is easy to explain: the more requests you accept, the more visible you become in each contact's homepage, the more visible and exposed you are to further connections. This would be great if those connections added value. However, from my experience, barely 5% of my contact network is useful to the end result, or to help other people. It therefore becomes a huge drawback as the more people you accept, the more requests you get from other people; especially nowadays when it seems that connecting through LinkedIn has become a national sport.
Changing things to improve the result
Result: more than 3,200 requests to answer. The dilemma for me is that I've always wanted to answer every request personally. Unfortunately, I cannot face such a deluge. It would only involve a meaningless sacrifice that I'm unwilling to make. The use given to LinkedIn no longer adds value. It's become saturated.
So, in order not to give up my LinkedIn account or the human touch I wish to maintain, from now on I will only respond personally to those people who explain the reason for contacting me and those who can benefit from connecting with me. All other invitations I will accept without answering back. I think this is a fair exchange: I'll bother with people who bother. Anyone else, if they want or need anything in particular, make this clear; at the end of the day, it's you who started any action, so the result will depend on how you start it. Any of the people whom I've contacted through LinkedIn knew my purpose right from the start.
LinkedIn invitations add no value; the value lies in the connection you're trying to make.