Recently, LinkedIn made some changes in the way invitations work, adding some automated consequences for sending invitations to people you don’t know (and who don’t want invitations from people they don’t know). In so doing, they changed the options as to how you can reply to an invitation you receive. You can now:
- Say you don’t know the person
- Decide later
- Reply to the inviter (this very important feature was just recently added a couple of months ago)
- Flag it as spam
What happened to the “Decline” button? Why can’t I just say “no”?
See, I know that clicking on the “I don’t know Joe” button will count against them – with five of those their account will be automatically suspended. We’ll leave aside the whole open networking argument for the moment. What if…
- I do know the person, but just not “well enough” for a LinkedIn connection by my standards. I don’t want to ding them for having either a slightly different connection standard or for thinking the relationship is stronger than I think it is. In this case, I think the “decide later” option actually makes pretty good sense. Maybe the relationship will grow, and “decide later” leaves that possibility open for you to accept some time in the future. You can archive the invitation so as to keep it out of your immediate view.
- I know the person, but I would never consider connecting with them because they’re incompetent, unethical or I simply don’t like them. In this case, I don’t want to decide later – I know I will never want to connect to this person. On the other hand, regardless of what I think of them, I don’t want to ding them by saying I don’t know them. I do know them – I just don’t want to connect. I think LinkedIn still needs to have a “decline” option for this scenario. Until they do, I recommend archiving the invitation – don’t punish them by saying you don’t know them.