LinkedIn Etiquette and Social Media


I’ve found LinkedIn to be a powerful Social Media tool for building and maintaining business relationships. Over the years, I’ve connected with several hundred people, all of whom I know. I’m no Mr. Manners, but I wouldn’t dream of sending an invitation to someone I hadn't met before.

However, I have noticed that some people’s Social Media “Compass” is quite different from mine. Has this happened to you?

Phase 1: The Innocuous Email

It all starts out innocent enough; I receive the following email….



John Doe has indicated you are a Friend

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

- John Doe

View invitation from John Doe


I rack my brain… for the life of me, I cannot recall ever knowing a John Doe. Did we meet at a recent networking event, work together, go to school together? Is he another executive recruiter, trying to “source” me for job candidates?

So, curiosity getting the best of me, I click “View invitation from John Doe” and I almost always find the following:

  1. John and I have never met.
  2. John and I have “Friends” in common.

Phase 2: The Search for Intent

John Doe, a person I have never met, wants to be my “Friend”, but unfortunately, he hasn’t shared why. Does he like one of my blogs; does he have a business proposition to discuss; is he looking for work? Depending on John’s intent, I might be very interested in connecting with him, but for some reason, he’s decided it’s okay to keep me guessing. This drives me nuts!

Phase 3: Offering an Olive Branch

Since I only connect with people I know, I do not automatically accept the invitation; instead I respond as follows:


Dear John,

Thank you for your invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Please forgive me, but have we met? I would be more than happy to connect with you, but as a rule, I do not accept LinkedIn invitations from people I do know know. If you are interested in connecting, please let me know why and provide some times when you could be available to meet face-to-face or speak via phone.




Phase 4: Resolution

Most of the time I hear back from John Doe, and he provides a rationale for connecting. We have a conference call, and if the call is productive, I often accept the Invitation to share my network and more.


Does this happen to you? When it does, what do you do?


The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily The University of Texas at Austin.

About The Author

Walter Kalmans

President, Lontra Ventures

Prior to founding Lontra Ventures in 2008, Walter Kalmans was Vice President, Business Development for Oncology Therapeutics Network (OTN), a...

Leave a comment

We want to hear from you! To keep discussions on-topic and constructive, comments are moderated for relevance and for abusive or profane language.
Login or register to post comments