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How LinkedIn can stop people from saying ‘Mujhse Fraandship Karoge’ and make more money.

How often have you got LinkedIn Invitations “to connect” from people claiming that you have done business with them in the past, when you are surer about the opposite than your kid’s birthday?

My guess is quite often. And if you have a generic title like CEO – which makes you a dumb target of luxury marketing whether or not you can afford them – you probably get more.

For long, I was angry with people who would just blatantly lie and say ‘We’ve done business together’ as a reason to connect over LinkedIn.

I wondered why can’t they simply be honest and write a personal message and say, hey, I don’t know you, but I would like to get connected for yada yada..

But I realized today, I’ve been getting mad at the wrong people. I should be mad at LinkedIn.

Consider this, I was looking to connect with Ajay Kelkar of Cequity. Since I don’t know him, I selected that option and drafted my email.

But, see what LinkedIn tells me AFTER I click on ‘Send Invitation’

Firstly, why give me the option to select ‘I don’t know Ajay’, allow me to type my message, and then sadistically tell me that I can’t send the message. Simply bad UX.

Secondly, the message seems to suggest you cannot send invitations to people you are not connected to, but LinkedIn has an InMail program through which you can send emails/invitations to people you don’t know. It is a useful service and comes at a price.

Aside from creating a bad user experience, LinkedIn is losing an opportunity here to advertise their InMail program. Here is what LinkedIn can do instead.

  1. Like Facebook, allow people to send a message to everyone, whether connected or not (remember, Users are doing it anyway, if you give a choice for people to be honest, most will take it.)
  2. When people select, ‘I don’t know xxx’, ask them if they want to send an InMail instead with assured delivery to the inbox. For those that are already InMail users, the message box could say, ‘You have yy InMails, send an InMail to xxx instead.’
  3. Design and enforce penalties. Strongly forewarn users to be very careful when they say they know the recipient in any way. Inform them about the risks if the recipient disputes the claim.
  4. Allow recipients to mark messages with false claims as such without direct feedback to the sender. Most people would like to be polite.
  5. For the recipient, put all these unsolicited requests in a separate inbox and make it unobtrusive.

Coming back to my peeve, as a way of introduction, LinkedIn provides a standard sentence.

‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’

When seeking to connect, it is not sufficient introduction because it doesn’t say why.
But it is not LinkedIn’s job to do it. It is the users’.

You sure wouldn’t lose anything by providing a little more context. But you would very likely come across as silly, if you just go with the template, and worse lie about knowing the person.

It is like asking ‘Mujhse Fraandship Karoge?’ on LinkedIn.

You are warned.

(For the uninitiated, ‘Mujhse fraandship karoge’, is a common crude opening line used by Indian men with women (presumably) in online chat rooms. It is a ‘loose’ request for friendship but very often means much else.)



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  1. awesome saturday morning read kiran!

    i won’t be surprised if this post gets you more fraaands! 


  2. Thanks Asha. I officially proclaim you as a fraand 🙂

  3. Agree to you Kiran. Following are my thoughts on the same

    • Connections are like $$ in the online world. As always said people judge you by the company you keep. @Alok will agree too 🙂 Hence it is important only to connect to people you know. If there was an option to connect with unknown people Everyones inbox will be filled with spam and it would be difficult to connect
    • Not giving the last option of I don’t know Mr X will force users to choose any other option in the desperation of getting connected. Best chosen option would be friend. I read ur article on RodinHood and i will send u a Fraaaand request 😛
    • I agree that LinkedIn shud rather use this opportunity. On choosing I don’t know u option;LinkedIn shud ina subtle way advertise tht this is not allowed on our network however InMail has a feature where you can use Lin to get connected to new people and increase ur business.

    One option that I would love to have on LIN is tht of canned messages. We meet new people in one of 5-6 ways like at events, on twitter, seminars, business connect etc. A canned message system will make the connections faster. Won’t it ?



  4. Kiran, I totally relate to what you are saying. I always wonder when i get these messages of “we have done business together” and i could swear that I dont know them from anywhere!! it would make a lot more sense for people to be able to reach out honestly and just mention why they would want to connect. its the users prerogative at the end of the day to look through the profile and take a call.

    (PS: can i find you on Linkedin and send you a fraaaaandship request?!! just asking :|)…-:)) 

  5. True, connections are currency. No point being connected to hundreds of people, without actually knowing anyone. The canned response is a good idea. Thanks for your comments.

  6. That’s an awesome point on UX.

    Unfortunately, I think LinkedIn is becoming a Plaxo on steroids nothing more.  They may as well open up introductions to all, as all most people do on LinkedIn is get contacts, while the more serious and relevant discussions open up on Quora.

  7. Kiran,

    Can’t help LinkedIn UI, but yes with linking-in certainly.

    Check your email.

  8. There also needs to be a change in the default subject line there. Join my network on LinkedIn, seems like a aaja bacchu dost ban, type. When someone sends a friend request, actually he/she wants to become a part of the network of the other person. So it should be rather ‘Want to join your network’ 

  9. Kanchan, thanks a lot. Have written to Ajay.

  10. Yeah that too.

    Join my network on LinkedIn

    ….Hmmn why?

  11. I’m actually “For” the idea of Linkedin allowing me to connect to people I dont know and similar for others to connect with me, but they justify it saying that checks and balances are required to control spam and unsolicited stuff.
    However, surprisingly I got a spam mail about a MLM scheme on LinkiedIn a few days ago….this is from someone who is not a contact……so I think there are loopholes being exploited.
    What linked suggests is that you can get to know someone by joining a community or group and add him or her, or if you are a colleague or a friend you have to justify the same. Effectively you cannot connect to someone you dont know. However, in real life business you always tend to meet new people and expand your network of contacts through meetings, references, introductions, etc.

    Linkedin wants to avoid people adding connects randomly and puts a check on it. Instead they want you to know the connect or contact and then add them. There is always a debate on how flexible it should be but these are the view of linkedin that I came across.

  12. Of late I have come across this new breed of people who join organizations, quickly update Linked in profile and start sending invitations to random professionals on behalf of the organization. They also write vague and incorrect job descriptions that are extremely inflated and most times all wrong. Their misleading profiles leads people to believe that they are ” superstars ” but in reality they can barely write a simple sentence properly. 

    I think more of us should insist on a background check at the time of employment  to make sure that these people are not making their careers just job-hopping based on exotic job profiles that mean nothing ! 

  13. Thanks Kiran for writing up this Linked in Fraud.. It sucks..

  14. Also , please check how linked in frauds entrepreneurs by lure of free advt.

    It was a real stupid thing to try their offer.. Please avoid these offers in best interest of ur startup

  15. You could also use “Groups” as a means of connecting with people. Or introductions through connections.

    Linkedin does have a penalty system which warns users if a large number of their invites have been marked “Don’t Know”. In such cases, the user will have to enter an email ID (which Linkedin supposes means you know the user :)). 9 times out of 10 , you might be able to find/decipher the email id of the person you are trying to connect with thru a google search..

  16. Forget connect requests, I get endorsements requests from people I have never worked with (even though I did accept their invitation to connect)! 🙂

  17. Hi Kiran,

    I agree with does get quite irritating when strangers write to you, saying they have done “business with you”. However, as far as achieving the objective of connecting with Ajay Kelkar was concerned, the simplest and most effective solution was to use the “Introduction” route, through a common contact-needless to say, it is more likely to succeed!. I have tried my hand at other approaches, incl the “InMail”/”Common Group” approach and I have finally come to this conclusion. A significant majority of  LI junta sure does need a tutorial on LinkedIn etiquette!

    Warm Regards


  18. I have been on both side of the pool 🙂

    I had seen few people who, desperately wanted to connect with me and once done no ding, no message no nothing. (I guess they see increasing network means increase in net worth – Old school of thoughts.)

    I have also reached out unknown people to connect, get some advice and also have discussion. Best option I choose is connected through groups, or others (but never say we have worked together). I have observed that most of the people naturally accept invitation to connect; it is as easy as a stranger ringing your door and you answering it. (I see Kiran’s point here like the way we peep through the door key hole to check for stranger and his strange behaviors same way there should be some other mechanics to validate intentions). For those who has asked me do I know you, My first word starts with No, but I read your article on so and so, been reading your views and replies on so and so, I thought it would be good idea to connect with you to take some advice for …..

    (I remain humble, short on message and not pushy on the reply, I leave it all on the chance if it connect it connects if not it’s OK)

    With social media, an impossible thing is now possible, we are able to send message across to anyone with 6-degree (or less) of separation, I need not be your friend, or in your network connect, etc, but can do it so the possibility of sending message across should not be closed or narrowed down. (Though ill intentions and spams should be stop at the gates)

    Most of us exceed dunbars number (150), which is optimum no. of contact one should have on social media , such that we are really connected, and are in touch with those many people, but then what the heck we don’t count calories before eating so why worry about some optimum numbers.

  19. Thanks Kiran for this lovely read.

    I belong to that set that dislikes unknown people trying to connect (especially ones whose profiles seem to have no relevance to you) on one hand, and on the other hand really wishes that she could make some interesting relevant connections without having to pay for it (cheap!! I know!!). So, I usually take the group route to connect with people I would like to. However, the challenge is in restricting the “mujhse fraandship karoge” types. You do not wish to be mean and refuse the request and spend time wondering what to do.. and in the meantime LinkedIn sends you reminders that there is a connect request pending.. prodding you to make a choice. I wish they would just allow a single mail… like the one you typed out. I am sure there must be some way that LinkedIn can allow you to send one mail to a person who is not connected to you and then restrict any further messages you try to send to that same person. So when you write to the person, you give your reasons for wanting to connect and your contact details allowing the other person to choose whether to connect or not. 

    The fact is that we are all on LinkedIn to improve our Professional networks which means that we DO need to connect to people we, either do not know at all, or know by name or reputation. There needs to be a mid-way solution to this.

  20. That’s a nice post Kiran.  I have found the standard template of LinkedIn meaningless and stifling as well. This is what I send as my personal message.  For example, for people who are in the health care sector, I mention “Let’s Save Diabetic Lives Together” and I always send it to someone who is in my groups.  And I do not send it to people indiscriminately and hence most of the professionals to whom I send the invite, accept it.  The message would vary depending on what would make sense for the recipient and be what I can offer.

    I find it amusing to receive invitations from people whom I have never heard of, let alone having done business and most of them use the route of “We’ve done business together” which is difficult to enforce.  Perhaps, Linkedin can give us the option of asking for email when someone chooses that option just like Friend or other.  That would stump a few but again there are ways of getting around that as well.

  21. Kiran-glad that we are finally connected & thanks to Kanchan for that! I loved your post & in fact found a wonderful Ted talk that accentuates the notion that “faceless trust” needs a new way to think & new networks are finding ways around that.Linked In can definitely do more to build trust ….here is thsi fascinating TED talk by Rachel!

  22. Hi Kiran,

    Thanks for enlightening the Rodinhoods on the missing link in linkedin. Yes its quite strange. Linkedin’s major objective is to cash on the people who wants to get connected across geographies to the people of their interest.

    They should not restrict people from sending invites to the unknown professionals rather they can put an embargo on the number of invites or the number of connections in the free account.

    But Kiran definitely its a smart observation.


  23. Hi

    i try other options like groups ..if that is not available this is how i do it .. don’t know if its the best way but at least saves me from lying about it…gets round to the linkedin limited options and yet …

    i select the done business option but have created an employer that reads “Not really but would be glad to connect still” … This has always been effective ..Try it sometime 🙂

  24. This reply is tangential to the main topic, but concerns Linkedin hence posting.

    Saw this wonderful recommendation on Linkedin.. Didnt know what the endorser wished to convey 🙂

    “An amiable and a distraught fellow, XXX got along with just about everyone. His avarice for generating revenue in Wealth Management led him to amass an enormous personal fortune. I have never seen him distraught to deliver a coherent performance. One of the salient difference is he has got rife quality to understand the business. He is a winner and he will reach at the absolute zenith of his career within no time.”

  25. Thats true Badri. Yes, if you’ve done business together, you sure would have their email.

  26. That was my point. A short line that explains why you want to connect goes a long way.

  27. Ha ha. Recommendations are generally ‘reciprocally altruistic’ (you scratch my back, I scratch yours). This one doesn’t seem to be one. But I am surprised XXX actually put this on the profile 🙂

  28. Great TED Talk Ajay. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Nice Post Kiran !! Yes you said it right Linked In needs to fix this flaw in the connecting with new people.

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