Linkedin etiquette – Why link but not shake?


In the last two days I have had discussions about how to use Linkedin. When I say use I mean the etiquette of connections, why you connect and how you should behave once you have. You always assume everyone is in it for the same reason, but that is not necessarily true as I have found out.

Let me start by summarising my contacts:

Category A: People I know very well either personally or via work, or have worked with over the years pretty closely. Linkedin for me in those cases is a good contact directory as inevitably you lose people’s details over time.

Category B: People I have known, perhaps through work for a short period of time, but none the less they are people I could stop and have a chat with.

Category C: People I have met in a meeting, maybe just the once, but we met. I notice the US visitors have Linkedin before they have left the office many times!

Category D: People I have not met but have heard of along the way and so at least know someone they no and or their company, many times you know what they want before they ask it.

Category E: Randoms.

Of the 1141 contacts I have, I would say about 20-30% are in this camp. It is this category that recently caused some offence with a sensitive sales guy called Lee oh and Joanna and a couple of others. Lee felt that he should comment on his incredulity about the fact that people accept invitations on Linkedin and then don’t respond to emails he sends to that contact. Well a debate started along two lines.

The first was whether you should agree to a connection if you had no real ambition to do business with that person, the second was it was rude not to reply to someone who had written to you. I think the third will soon become how you see Linkedin vs say Facebook and Twitter, but for today I am going to leave that one.

Here was my view that I expressed to their disappointment. I accept Linkedin invitations to almost anyone because I have nothing to hide or keep private like say on Facebook, so as far as I can see, more the merrier, in fact more fool them as they will have to suffer my Twitter updates! In fact the most useful thing about Linkedin is the ability to track people down you don’t know and find out more. It could be an interview, a meeting, a new business pitch, whatever, if they are in your network you can see their details. Therefore the bigger the network, the more likelihood of being about to track them down. Apparently that is seen as being a little negative and cynical, I was surprised to discover this as I assumed everyone did it! Any thoughts?

As for the second debate about contact etiquette the general theme was that you should respond to every in bound email. Well on this I thought that yes in theory you should respond to every email out of politeness but then again, if it is a mass email with limited targeting and thought then absolutely no chance. There are other categories of in bound though that wont get a response. They normally start with ‘I just had a meeting with someone senior in your organisation (add in whoever) who I have know for years (read old school network and good old days club)  and thought we should meet for a coffee. Well you know what, for better or worse I don’t reply to the name dropping approach. Cant stand it. The other blank is anyone who starts with ‘I would like to take you for lunch this Friday type thing’ No. I don’t know you and just because I accepted your Linkedin invite does not mean we can start dating. Too pushy.

So you see there are many reasons for not replying, often the least of them is just straight too busy. It happens to all of us all of the time, people don’t return calls, don’t turn up for meetings and all that, so Lee in my opinion was being a little sensitive and had us all believing that he sends his 1000 copy and paste emails and then waits with bated breath for a reply. You wrote three lines and copied and pasted a couple of times and then pressed a button. Forgive me if I don’t send a carrier pigeon laden with chocolates explaining that I am unable to enter into business with you.  You can always remove me – I will never know!

Communication on Linkedin is the same as everywhere. Make it personalised, well thought out, relevant and well written. Even better find another way to contact me that shows you have put the slightest extra effort into the process if you are really serious. And just for clarity I am still talking Cat E types, the rest I am fine with.

What does everyone else think? Am I being too black and white? Make sure everyone of you replies or I will cry like a baby and post how upset I am that you follow my blog and don’t comment!

When will instant be too slow?

Marco Bertozzi:23.03.10

Inspired by a meeting today with Harriet Dennys from Mediaweek I started to think about the speed of communication that surrounds us.

Along came email, no more letters or faxes needed. Everything sped up that little bit more, having said that we still held on much longer than we needed to before giving in to sending everything via email. There were concerns at the time that it was too informal and hard copy was more professional.

At around this time we received our news via the hard copy trade titles, it was a sign of position if you were able to receive a copy of Campaign and people waited with baited breath to see what would be said about them or their clients or their competitors. Now we receive our news via Twitter feeds, Linkedin, Facebook, we sign up to far more feeds than we would ever have contemplated reading, we cherry pick. News on demand.

Today I was asked if I thought email Bulletins were too slow? Amazing thought, to imagine that we are even considering that a daily email bulletin is too slow. Harriet was right though, in some respects a daily bulletin is too slow, news is everywhere, it’s on demand, its in feeds. People everywhere are aggregating all of these feeds into one location and getting it fed to them night and day, minute by minute and that is creating another effect..promiscuity!

Like search, do you care where you get your information from as long as its correct or first? Look at the myriad of Twitter feeds, most of them are just swirling the same content around so do you wait for your favourite feed to appear with the news that interests you or just click on the first? I click on the first and I bet many others do as well. It’s all changing, its faster, its more and more digital and it is all making even a Bulletin feel slow..someone stick the brakes on!

It does not stop at news, it’s the same with email. Many media companies are also communicating via messenger both internally and externally – why? It’s quicker than much quicker can it get? It’s not just the mechanic but also the expectation – are we not all on email via BB or iPhone, why would it take that long to reply? How long do we all now wait before expecting a response? Ok its 10pm but he could just fire me back a quick response couldn’t he? Email is not slow, it’s now the users that are judged for their speed of response!

I am out of breath just writing this and during the time it has taken i have received about 100 feed updates, 5 emails at 11.30pm (damn the US) and 1 text. Where will it end? Thanks HD for the inspiration!

As a follow up – check Craig Robinsons response to this blog @

How would you come across online if I searched for you?

It just struck me as I did a bit of research on some people, you can tell a lot about a person as to whether or not they are on Youtube.

Most people worry about keeping their Linkedin profile up to date, a good CV, perhaps they Tweet a bit and blog a bit but actually one of the most powerful mediums is that of video. In my research of some senior media players it has been fascinating to see who either a) cares or b) has time to create their online CVs with a professional Youtube appearance ranking top in my mind.

What a Youtube performance allows is for someone you have not met to come to life, you may learn a little about their character, approach and beliefs. That is useful and powerful stuff when you are about to be interviewed by them. Perhaps its superficial to judge someone on that basis but I think it says a lot about them as people. It usually means they are not afraid to put their thoughts out there, often in positions of influence hence why they are presenting at conferences etc (most likely video scenarios) and therefore likely to be well connected.

There is much talk about your online persona, is the CV almost irrelevant now, is it more about your online presence, your content that appears if someone searches for you, how many followers you have and so on, I believe probably more and more. Put yourself in the shoes of a candidate you have to interview and search for your name, how do you come across? What would you think of you? All employers are turning to the web to research people, I think its time to check out your own online CV.

So if you are presenting soon at a conference, get yourself recorded!

iPhone app for Linkedin upgraded

Marco Bertozzi:31.12.09
After what seems an eternity Linkedin have at last upgraded their iPhone application to a more sophisticated and user friendly version. I am not sure why this has taken so long when you know how many new versions have been produced by the other social networking services.

Every button provides a well known Linkedin service

What is strange is that Linkedin really should have been ahead of the game as their game is business networking and the iphone could have been a valuable piece of armoury for Linkedin if they had got this service up and running quicker. All the stats indicate that Facebook users do most of their updates via their mobile, this is something I am sure Linkedin are well behind on.

The most interesting option is the ability to Bluetooth profiles between users which would have been invaluable as all the networkers converged on the conferences around the world, iphone in hand. I think there could be more options based on geo based searches, a little like the way Twitter has transformed conferences by people following each other as they tweet, could Linkedin not have a similar option for those using Bluetooth and within range?

Anyway it’s here now and it’s a good layout, a little too similar to the Facebook layout but at least a lot simpler than before. They have broken out all the various things you can do with Linkedin and given each one of them a button so now the application 100% replicates all you can do on the PC which has to be a good thing. Now they just need to make the most of what mobile can offer.

The portal could be back..

How on earth do you stay in touch with all of your communications? So whats normal nowadays? Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, your blog? News feeds from wired, trade news, world news etc etc. I think that the world is getting out of hand in terms of comms solutions.

How right then that AOL, Yahoo and more recently MSN are simplifying their pages and letting in the competition to allow us to connect to all of our accounts from one page. This would have been unthinkable a few years ago, when I was working on a film release the film maker had a promotion site made by Yahoo and therefore contained its logo, even this was not allowed on the MSN site at the time. How the world has changed, but it needs to!

The idea of a Portal is never more relevant, perhaps more relevant than when the portals genuinely ruled the digital waves. I could see these portals gaining back share with the advent of letting people add their own widgets. Yahoo / MSN and the like need to go even further down the road to the likes of netvibes and their many lookalikes

and allow absolutely all the links you could ever want on your page, become like them except you have content, news, entertainment etc. The Portal is back, lets hope they make them better than ever because all i know is I need one place to go to, not 5 or 6. On that point, I have to say that I am thoroughly disappointed with Linkedin external linking strategy, they have one of the poorest iphone applications, they have a useless netvibes widget – what are they doing, they are meant to about being a business network, they need to speed up this part of their developments..