Not long ago, most people’s advice was to ignore invitations from those you don’t know. However, recently I have been receiving a significant number of that type of invitation, which makes me want to revisit the following questions:
If you don’t, are you concerned that you may miss out on job or other opportunities?
If you do, has there ever been a downside?
This is a good question for us all to consider, especially as LinkedIn makes it easier to invite connections. (It’s also pretty clear that LinkedIn likes larger networks.)
It’s ok to accept a LinkedIn connection from someone you don’t know
I make a value judgement based on the contact if I don’t know them personally:
- Who do they know in my network, 1 person, a bunch of people? Is that person or persons a recent contact or one I know well?
- What is their profile like – fully filled out with lots of recommendations or something quick and slapped together?
- What do they do – if they’re someone looking to farm contacts and spam me with sales messages I’m less likely to link them.
- Did they look at my profile first – I can decide if people bothered to look at my profile before I link back to them.
- Are they a potential customer or valuable networking contact?
- How many other contacts do THEY have?
- Are they active at blogging or posting or does everything in their feed look like an advertisement?
- If they are active, do they engage?
- Are they inside or outside the US?
- Are they in the local area or someplace else in the US?
- Are they in a competitive company to mine or one that might complement it?
In other words, their profile is key even if no contacts in common.
I also look at behavior:
- Custom invite message vs canned one (not as good a predictor as some of the mobile invite workflows don’t allow you to customize the invite)
- If they spam me right away – I block them right away.
- Do they send me a thank you for the accept or just ignore me?
A strong LinkedIn network is built with strong connections
Originally, I LinkedIn only with people I knew and could vouch for. But my main use of LinkedIn is to see who I know that knows someone I want to meet. So for that purpose, having a larger network is better.
I have met some really interesting people who initiated a friend request with me, and based on their background and LinkedIn profile, I decided it would be helpful to get to know them.
So to meet new and interesting people, and to have a big network that can help me to get a warm introduction to people I want to meet, I now accept some requests from people I don’t know. I especially accept them if they are interesting to me, or if we have several or many mutual connections consisting of people I know and respect.
The biggest downside for me is that every week I get connection requests from people who want to sell me something. If they abuse me with sales messages, most of the time I go back and remove those connections.
What’s your thoughts?
Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.