If you're going to spam people, humor them (or, how to get people to connect to you via Plaxo or Linked In)

Update:  re:Plaxo:  A lot of my contacts have updated their info via Plaxo, including several people who had moved offices, changed phone numbers, etc.  I never would have found this out otherwise.  Two people got annoyed by it, and four people complimented my attempt at humor.  Some just ignored it.  Apoligies to anyone who was inconvenienced by the mailing, but it really helped me out a lot.  Here's the rest of the post:

I probably have one of the highest success rates out there when it comes to getting people to connect to me on LinkedIn.

I do pretty well on Plaxo, too.

The secret?

Humor people.

Both services have some pretty bland stock invitations and very few people ever take the time to change them.  That's why they annoy people and people call them spam. 

But, I really find them useful, so instead, I set out to try and give people a free laugh in exchange for filling out the little form or agreeing to be a contact. 

Here's my LinkedIn invite:

I'm using LinkedIn to keep in touch with my professional network. Because you're a PERSON, I'm going to take two seconds to write a mildly creative and entertaining invitation, even though you know what this whole thing is about and any text is probably unnecessary.

So link to me, and then I'll troll your network for opportunities, contacts, dates, etc... all the while getting your permission at every step. Pretty soon, your network will realize that I'm a far more interesting person than you are, and one by one, they'll probably unlink you. You'll wind up alone in a bar somewhere, and probably wind up in a fight.  Several haymakers and a black eye later, you'll wonder where all your friends went and you'll only have yourself, Reid Hoffman, Sequoia and Greylock to blame. :)

Of course, I'm joking...

Obviously, you can't blame the VC's.

- Charlie

And here's my Plaxo invite that I just sent out:

Subject: How Plaxo is like one of those college kids getting you to sign a Greenpeace petition on the street

<Your name>,

Some people think Plaxo is spam.  Just like one of those Greenpeace kids, it usually comes at an inopportune time and its mildly annoying.

However, that doesn't mean Greenpeace isn't a good cause.  In the same way, joining a network that solves your contact info and address book problems once and for all isn't such a bad thing either, even if its methods are slightly annoying.

So, once a year, I'll use Plaxo to ask for updates.  Its selfish.  I want you to type it in because I don't want to do it myself.  Can you blame me?

If you are already on Plaxo, this won't affect you, because I'll always have your latest info and you won't need to do anything.  If you're not, you'll have to do the following decide whether or not I'm the kind of guy you want to have your info.  Then, you'll have to manually type out your info when you have a free moment, which is probably never, or politely ignore this e-mail at the risk that it hits your inbox limit.  Isn't it easier just to join?

I'll put my Plaxo and LinkedIn acceptance rates against anyone with these babies. 

"They're gold, Jerry!   Gold!"