In Gini Dietrich's entrepreneurial column for Crain's posted online Friday, she throws the gauntlet down on what should be obvious etiquette when it comes to networking on LinkedIn: Tell people how you know them when trying to join their circle of contacts.
Some people, Dietrich explains, are of the mind that "the whole point of social networking is ... that you should just accept people into your network." That would be great if we didn't live in a world where don't all get spammed by add-me requests from total strangers and bots alike. Anyone with a Facebook account has experienced this when getting a mysterious friend request: How do I know this person? Is this even a real person?
You're doing the same thing when you fire off the standard "I'd like to add you to my professional network" request from LinkedIn. Unless you know the person very well, without any elaboration you may as well be a total stranger.
It's the same rule you should follow when applying for a job: Don't just use Word's standard resumé and cover-letter templates as-is. You wouldn't leave the blanks in those documents reserved for your name or the hiring company unfilled, would you? So don't do it on LinkedIn.