Accept or decline, that is the question 18:17 on Wednesday

Yesterday I got a LinkedIn connection request from Apurva Roy Choudhury, the CEO of Cynapse, who are the makers of “bliki” web app Cyn.in, which I got a blogger preview account for a while back, and didn’t like that much. He wants to get in touch with people who he knows well, for mutual benefit, of course.

Cool, a CEO of a supposedly high voltage web 2.0 app wants to be my friend! The only problem is, I’ve never met, emailed with or had any kind of contact with Mr. Apurva. By the power of internet, I know who he is, but theoretically it could be said he’s abusing the LinkedIn invitation system to advertise his product (the invitation contained product details of notable length).

Should I accept the invitation? He doesn’t know me, so how could he recommend people to connect with me? That’s the reason for linking in anyway.

Or should I decline the invitation, and he will never again be able to send me an invitation again, even if we accidentally did bump into each other in the local supermarket and became best friends?

Update: Apurva writes his viewpoint in the comments, and I have accepted the connection. The full comments thread is interesting, I’ve got a lot of thoughts popping up about public vs. private, openness vs. trust, what constitutes as a connection in a social network, etc…

10 Responses to “Accept or decline, that is the question”


  1. Orion Says:

    For me, this sounds way too familiar from MySpace (even though LinkedIn should more mature): “be my ‘friend’” equals “more benefit to me”. What is this whole “friend” thing anyway? :P

  2. Niko Says:

    I had a problem with MySpace too, until I just realized I have to redefine the word “friend”. In MySpace marking someone as a friend is more like “giving props” than actually showing friendship.

    But LinkedIn… the point of being there is to further your career, and the whole point of “linking in” is to be able to refer people to each other, based on what you know of each party. If you know nothing, how could you refer people? If you can’t refer people, what’s the point of linking?

  3. Konstantin Guericke Says:

    I would decline since you can’t really make effective introductions for him. If you think you might get to know him later, then I would use the “decide later” option. Maybe invite him to meet face-to-face. If he agrees, then you know he’s in it for the right reasons . . . and you can decide to link up after you know him well enough to make introductions for him and feel good about it.

  4. Niko Says:

    Well, he’s in India (I think), I’m in Finland, and we don’t know each other — so meeting might be out of question. But you never know what happens, what if I did meet him later…

    Anyway, I guess I’m leaning on the Decline button.

  5. Apurva Says:

    Hi Niko,

    I sent you the linked in invite for Two reasons. One: I am really interested in conversing with people who have taken the time to use cyn.in (but only with their permission of-course) about what they think about cyn.in.

    Two: Your linked-in profile says “flash coder for hire” and we are in the process of building flash extensions and widgets for cyn.in. I had assumed that you might be interested in working with us, as our development policy is to outsource selective functionality to domain experts that we identify from around the world.

    I thought an invite on linked-in would be far less obtrusive than a direct mail to a lot of people with whom i felt the need to network with. That ways, only those people who decide that they might have any interest or inclination to network or spend email conversation time with me would accept the connection.

    I agree that a mass invite message tends to look spamish, but the intentions were to just have a more organized method of communicating and networking. So well, I sent an invite to a lot of people, and managed to raise 3 eyebrows until now including yours Niko, Apologies if i created any inconvenience.

  6. Wolfie Says:

    I don’t really know about the way you use LinkedIn, but in a business network world, one doesn’t really treat business contacts the way you seem to be doing.

    All respect to Konstantin, I think LinkedIn is a great place to be at. Like he says, one of the primary activities that goes around is referals and recommendations, yes.

    But if you really consider yourself a business networker, and a business contact comes to you looking to shake hands and “make friends” then you would be very wrong to flaunt/taunt them this way. Think about what happens when the next business contact that you need to actually connect to comes along to your linked in profile page, lands on your blog from there and then lands on this post.

    Would you really be encouraging them to send you an invite?

    Does a blog really influence what people think about the kind of person you are? I think it does. Heavily.

    And what about the fact that you mention that he’s the CEO of a high voltage web2.0 company…. so what if you don’t know him, I would have considered this to be a great chance to get to know him better – perhaps you could help him improve the very same product that you say you didn’t like.

    I would consider a LinkedIn connection invite to be a private communication between two people. Putting it up, here, like this, is simply, wrong!

  7. Niko Says:

    (For readers of the full comments conversation: both Apurva’s and Wolfie’s comments were in the moderation queue at the same time, so Wolfie did not see Apurva’s comment before writing his.)

    Apurva: First of all, I’m sorry if I offended you in any way. You did not create any inconvenience, but raised a question. And I am up for challenging Flash work for all interesting clients, your company included.

    On LinkedIn vs. direct email — in hindsight, I can see your point of causing least obtrusion, which is a noble thought in these times of bloated inboxes… Perhaps I wouldn’t have wondered what the contact was about, if I knew why you were sending the invite to me of all cyn.in users, and that you had also taken note of my flash work. Personal mailing vs. direct mailing.

    Many thanks for coming by my blog and commenting, I have added you as a LinkedIn connection. :)

    Wolfie: Points taken. I would like to be a business networker, but I’m definitely a novice in that area and I will happily suck in any advice given. Like a sponge.

    My intention was in no way to flaunt or taunt Mr. Apurva. I agree a blog definitely influences what people think of the blogger (actually that’s probably the best reason to start a business blog) and I took a calculated risk when posting this entry to my blog. I also agree that turning away from someone who comes to shake hands is, well, plain stupid. But in the world of online networking, where you can quite easily have tens of thousands of “friends” by just randomly sending out connection requests — how valuable is that network? And do you want that kind of network? The LinkedIn FAQ says this about choosing contacts:

    When you invite a friend or colleague to reconnect, be sure the person you’re choosing will be a good addition to your network. Only invite those you know and trust. You may be asked to tell one of your trusted friends more about the person you invite, and they may have to do the same for you. Or you may be forwarding a request (your own, or one from a friend) through them. Be sure you trust them to represent you and to treat a potentially serious request with appropriate care.

    Last, I agree once more that a LinkedIn invite from a person to another is a private communication. But what if the exact same invitation is sent to 200 new contacts? Is it still a one to one communication? Or is it like cold calling 200 people with a recorded sales pitch? Or sending out 200 signed copies of the same letter to people you haven’t conversed with? I don’t have the answer. These are questions of what is acceptable or private when using different channels of communication.

  8. Apurva Says:

    Wow! this comment thread seems to have become an elaborate debate! No offense taken Niko, not at all. I agree that a ‘botted’ invite cannot raise the same response or interest that a personalized mail would. Wolfie, I think Niko’s intentions were not to taunt / flaunt anyone, but raise a general debate about linked-in invites, and the probability of their validity.

    Well, now that the dust has settled and Niko and I are finally connected, I guess we should take this conversation over to email now, should we? :)

  9. Niko Says:

    Indeed we should.. ;)

  10. Juansi Says:

    Happy ending… :-)