How NOT to make a connection on LinkedIn

I get one of these LinkedIn connection requests it seems almost every day:

I'd like to add you to my professional network. -John

The header will say something like John has indicated you are a friend.

The problem is I don't have any idea who the person is. 

I've got a very hard and fast rule on connection requests:  If they are from the metro Detroit area and I don't actually know them, I don't accept.  This strategy has served me really well.  Because I'll tell them my rule and I'll meet them for breakfast, lunch or coffee.  Once we've met, I'll accept the request.  I've made some great connections this way.

In case you didn't figure it out, I got one of those today.  Without getting into specifics, this person is a service provider that both my Firm could conceivably use but also is someone an ordinary CPA could possibly make referrals to.  I probably wouldn't be able to make referrals to this person both because I've got established relationships in this service but also most of our clients just aren't in the market for this service.

So I reply via LinkedIn with a very curt "Do I know you?" and get an email directly to my Outlook Inbox, not to LinkedIn.  I came up on this individual's "People You May Know" and apparently we have a couple of dozen of connections in common. 

Then the sales pitch starts.  I politely reply with an apology for my initial curt reply, tell him I'm familiar with the service, that we had used the service in the past and that we aren't looking to use it again.

I get this in reply (I've done some editing):

I completely understand as I receive similar requests.  I understand if you’ve had a poor ___ experience in the past, I run into that quite often.  If it’s any consolation, we have most every client we’ve ever enrolled since we opened our doors.  So, please don’t have a poor overall view of _____’s. We actually ARE different than our competitors!

My hope is that you will be comfortable enough to refer us to your contacts who may have an H.R. need.  May I stop at your office Monday 9/12 @4PM just so we can meet?

He lost me with that last paragraph. 

  • He clearly doesn't know the nature of my practice.  Most of our clients don't even have employees!
  • If he'd said "can we meet for coffee to get to know each other" I'd have said sure.  But to initially indicate we are friends in the connection request, go into a sales pitch and then try to get into my office?  No way.

I'm going to do a future post on the right way to make a connection on LinkedIn.  In the meantime, I'm going to try and write a polite reply to this guy turning him down.  I'm not going to refuse the request just yet, but that is likely to happen.

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Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies. Joel writes observations on different matters and especially on working with and using LinkedIn. He thinks he has a sense of humor.

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