Should I accept people’s invitations on LinkedIn who I don’t know but they have a pretty good profile and similar interests to me?
For me, it would also depend on whether the connection request was the standard – “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” or if the person wrote a personal note in their request about why they would like to connect.
Three (3) buckets that these sorts of requests fall into for me:
Bucket #1: If it was a generic invitation to connect and the person doesn’t seem to have immediate or clear value, I ignore the request altogether.
Bucket #2*: If it was a generic invitation to connect but the person looks interesting or could be valuable to my personal or professional goals, I’ll send a return message to ask the person how they came across my profile and why they thought the two of us should connect. If they don’t reply, then it’s not worth connecting with them.
This will also ferret out a potentially hidden reason such as – “I’m looking for a job now” or “I saw that you’re connected to _____ and I was hoping for an introduction.”
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* This sounds like the case about which you’re specifically asking in this question…
Bucket #3: If the person wrote a personal note with reason that makes sense, I’ll often accept the request then reply back in LinkedIn with a personal note to see about our interests and doing a quick call to formalize the connection and where we might help each other in the near term – introductions, information exchange, meet at an upcoming conference, etc.
A few more related thoughts…
To connect with someone on LinkedIn, I should see the potential for a mutually beneficial opportunity to help one another in the near future. My loose requirements are:
- I want to be able to refer to that person if I find that we’re both connected to a third person that I’d like to meet. “Hi Bill… I saw we’re both connected to Jim Smith and I wanted to ask you a question about…”
- Rely on the connection’s help with a professional question.
- Want to meet them at a future event because I think they’re interesting and I can learn from them.
Recently, I’ve found several connections in my own contacts that I don’t recognize – people that I connected with several years ago and I can’t immediately recollect how I got connected to them.** I’m not necessarily going to prune these connections, especially if they seem like the relationship could be more beneficial. Instead, I might send them a note on LinkedIn such as:
“Hi Steve – We connected here on LinkedIn back in 2011. I think it might have been after we met at the MBA mortgage conference that year. We haven’t chatted in a while, and I thought I’d check in to see what’s new and how I can help out with anything you’re working on – introductions to any of my contacts, perspectives on projects, jobs you’re trying to fill at your company.
Let me know – happy to help. We connected for a reason so I figure we should make the most of it.”
If that person gets back to me, we have the opportunity to improve the relationship, and even further, I’ve probably strengthened it significantly because of the unsolicited and genuine offer to help.
I have a colleague who sends LinkedIn connection requests to people that he’s trying to reach. Personally, this is why I have a Premium account – so I can use InMails to reach out to someone for a specific question. If the InMail leads to a conversation, a meeting, or even a significant email exchange, then I’ll send over a connection request.
** LinkedIn has gotten much better recently with the “Note” – “Reminder” – “How you met” – “Tag” features. If I’m not sure where I met a connection, the “Connected” date that LinkedIn now shows often jogs my memory. I also search for that person in my email for previous correspondence or reminders.
**This Q&A article was originally posted on Quora. Check out Scott’s Quora page here.