Michael-Odonnell-StartupsI get about five or six requests to connect with people on Linkedin every day. I consider each and every request in the spirit I hope others will consider my requests to connect with them. I use to accept invitations only from those I know — or at least have met in person. I abandoned that policy because I myself have requested to connect with people on Linkedin that I do not know and have not met, because I think there is a basis for mutual interest. It only seems fair that I should thoughtfully consider requests from people whom i do not know (yet).

I review the profiles of each person who invites me to connect. I generally accept invitations that are authentic and relevant to my professional endeavors. The reasons I reject invitations are for the following reasons:

1. No picture or picture is an icon or company logo. I’m looking to connect with “real” people, not with people with no faces or inanimate objects. I value relationships with people, not with entities. If I want to follow your company, I will do so under the “Companies” section of Linkedin. I can not know you or trust you if I can not see you. I need to put a face to a name.

2. Incomplete or sparse profile. If you can’t take the time to list your work history, educational background, and other information that helps me learn who you really are and what you are all about, why do I need you in my network? If I know nothing about you, I certainly can’t do anything for you, nor you for me.

3. Few connections and no recommendations. I am immediately suspicious of invitations from people who have few if no connections. Such a profile screams “SCAMMER.” If you are just starting your professional career, you should at least be connected with your fellow classmates and friends. If no former supervisor, colleague, teacher, or friend has recommended you, why should I? Because accepting you into my network represents at least a tacit recommendation of you to the other people I am connected to.

4. Your invitation reads, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on Linkedin.” If you can’t take 2 minutes to write, ‘Hey Mike, I know we don’t know each other, but I think we have some mutual interests (or connections) and I would value you in my network,” then I won’t take 1 second to click “accept.”

5. You lied about how you know me. If your Linkedin invite says your are a former colleague, or classmate, or we have done business together…and we haven’t…well, that’s just a bad way to start a new relationship.

6. Your connection invitation was preceded by an InMail which was essentially a sales pitch for your company or products/services. See #1 above.

7. Your profile title says you are a “visionary” or you have 10,000+ connections, which intimates that i must be a dolt, because I have no vision and so fewer connections than you, and obviously would love to be one of your groupies. Really? Please spare me the privilege of being in your network.

Be you. Be real. One good connection is better than hundreds (or thousands) of random names.

Michael O’Donnell is a career startup entrepreneur, investor, advisor, board member and startup consultant with a proven track record. He’s currently the GM at Thesis Ventures and President at Startupbiz.com. You can find him on LinkedIn here, and if you meet the criteria above he’ll most likely accept your intivation.


Michael wanted us to include this reply to this post from Adam Elteto 

“Why I would not even bother sending you an invitation in the first place”

To be fair, I am going to review this article with the same smug tone the author used. No need to be up in arms, but yet another article that thinks it is clever and informative by telling you why everything about your profile sucks deserves a little playful mockery.

For starters, the tone of the article is arrogant, overconfident, lofty. It sets the pretense that the author is held in higher esteem than he considers his “subjects” to be in.

1. You do not like no picture, or a logo placeholder? You clearly do not care about privacy. Not everyone is here to get their face out in the world.


2. You do not like incomplete profiles. You do not respect privacy, you want to know everything. You state you cannot do anything for me because because I did not fill in all my information. What are you; Mr. Big Data, trying to send me targeted ads and stalk me?


3. I am immediately suspicious of people posting articles about how they belittle other LinkedIn members and how clever they think they are by lecturing them. It screams the member is working on confidence issues. Or overcompensating for something. “If no former supervisor, colleague, teacher, or friend has recommended you, why should I?” Because we in steerage were hoping for the privilege of you being the first to recommend us. You missed the point!


4. Maybe the person is famous and ubiquitous, but you are not aware of the industry or scene, so now he has to lower himself to your level to waste two minutes of his life and tell you why you should take that second to click Connect.


5. “If your Linkedin invite says your are a former colleague, or classmate, or we have done business together…and we haven’t…well,” Yeah, well, that means your memory is about as good as your LinkedIn modesty and people skills.


6. Maybe you just really do not have a vision. And what is wrong with being a groupie?