Let’s give a quick shout-out to Mom, who taught us many important lessons. Even though she may have exaggerated a bit when she said we’d ruin our eyes if we held them cross-eyed forYou're invited too long and that sitting too close to the TV would rot our brains, she was right about a lot. Remembering the value of using good manners and being respectful of others were two of the lessons which have stood the test of time. Even as we move much of our communication online, these lessons are no less applicable. In fact, they are likely more important than ever as stark words on a computer screen are easily misunderstood if we’re not careful.

One small example of this relates to the LinkedIn invitation. When we invite someone to join our network of connections on LinkedIn, the invitation is populated with generic, default language. Many people on LinkedIn won’t mind or notice the default “I’d like to add you to my network” language, but there are many others who see this as anything ranging from bad manners to spam. In fact, many LinkedIn invitations are in fact spammy, sent by people looking to connect indiscriminately to any and everyone to increase the number of people in their network.

If you’d like to heed your mother’s advice and demonstrate your good manners when inviting others to connect on LinkedIn, I recommend that you take a moment to customize the text in the invitation. It is considerate to remind the other person how you know one another and why you would like to connect with them, as opposed to connecting with someone to increase the size of your network.

Suggested language you might want to consider including in the invitation:

  • Wonderful to meet you at the marketing conference last week.
  • Following up on our conversation and would like to link up here so I can introduce you to a top-notch sales guy in my network.
  • Read some of your blog posts, very impressive, would like to connect and talk further.
  • Long time, no see. Haven’t seen you since we were sorority sisters at Tech.
  • Bob, this is your wife. Add me to your network so I have at least one connection. Now, please.

Anyway, I think you get the idea. Let me know why you want to connect with me and please remind me how I know you, just to avoid any awkwardness in case I might have forgotten.

This concludes your etiquette lesson for the day. Now, say “Thank you” and, for goodness sake, please sit up straight.

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