Social Networking Invitation Etiquette

I remember when people first started using email, and there was a flurry of publications on “netiquette,” the etiquette of how to use email. Social networking is at that stage now. There’s been a lot written about the potential for future embarrassment from photos or videos published on Facebook or MySpace, but I am focused on a humber bit of social networking etiquette: the proper use of invitations.

Someone who is well known receives hundreds if not thousands of invitations from strangers, to every social network under the sun. Most of these, relying solely on the boilerplate invitation text, go right into the trash. “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Sure. Who are you? What do you do? Why should I care? (Even if I’ve met you, I might need my mind jogged, especially if you might have the same name as other people I know.)

Here are two invitations I’ve accepted recently from people who I don’t know, but who explained nicely in their invitation why they were trying to connect.

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Think about an invitation like you would an email or a phone call. Who are you trying to reach? What do you want from them? Why should they care to respond? If you can’t practice that elementary courtesy, don’t bother to ask.