I love connecting with new people online. I often make connections through Twitter (especially Tweet Chats), conversations in groups on LinkedIn, via comments sections on websites/blogs, I’ve met people via Periscope and Blab and recently discovered HipChat (how cool is that!? Thanks Melissa!).
However one thing I don’t generally do is accept LinkedIn invites from people I don’t know or haven’t had a conversation with previously. There have been a couple of exceptions – when the request has come with a short message about why the person wants to connect I’ve accepted and then had some great conversations, both online and in real life (or IRL for those of you that remember MS Messenger).
My main reason for this is that I like my LinkedIn feed being relevant to me. I get a huge amount of my own professional development from seeing what my connections and groups share and I believe the platform would lose relevance to me if it became a feed of 1001 different irrelevant posts.
When I receive an invite from someone I know I always accept, and if I don’t know them I will go through a couple of steps before declining:
- Have they written a message about why they want to connect? If they have and it makes sense to me I’ll accept and send them a message to start a conversation.
- If there is no message I check out their LinkedIn profile – have I met them somewhere/worked with them in a past life? It can be easy to dismiss people too quickly, especially if they’ve change their surname or it’s been a few years.
- I also do a quick Twitter search – have I interacted with them on that platform?
- If something about their profile intrigues me I will send them a message (thanks Helen Blunden for this great LinkedIn email responses article, I’ve adapted the suggested messages and used these myself) asking what they’re looking to achieve out of the connection.
- If none of these things are true I will decline the invite.
LinkedIn is a professional network, not a popularity contest. LinkedIn groups (which have gone through a great facelift recently) provide an opportunity for open networking – my personal connections do not need to be that open network.
How do you judge who you accept connection requests from? I don’t believe there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to use this platform – just the way that works best for you.
First published on LinkedIn