One of the things I like best about LinkedIn is that it’s a professional networking site, and because of that the majority of people who log on to LinkedIn do so with a more professional state of mind, and perhaps a different mindset from the other social media platforms.
It’s a lot like offline networking. There are networking events that are informal and everyone dresses comfortably and informally. On the other hand, there are some events where most attendees are dressed more professionally and a little more formal.
LinkedIn is a highly powerful networking tool for business leaders and professional people to connect with each other and allows you to make connections on a network that has over 300 million members.
Who Should You Connect With?
This is a question I believe that has to be answered by each person after examining the pros and cons. It is ultimately an individual decision. If you were to ask five top LinkedIn experts about their views on adding first level connections you’d probably receive three or more different answers.
One viewpoint is that your 1st level connections should be made up of people you already know, like and trust and would be willing to do business with, if you’re not doing so already.
Another viewpoint is that you do not have to limit your 1st level connections to only people you know, especially if you do not already have a large network that’s on LinkedIn. You’ll notice that there are people who include (LION) in their Headline. This is to let everyone know that they are willing to accept connection requests from anyone and will not reject your request by saying that they do not know you.
Here are some reasons why you want to have as many first level connections as possible.
- The number of first level connections you have has a bearing on your ranking in LinkedIn search results, so it makes sense to add as many connections as possible as quickly as possible. You do want to first make sure that your Profile is optimized with the appropriate keywords. This coupled with a sizable number of first level connections could influence your showing up higher in the results for your keywords.
- LinkedIn clearly places a value on this as well because the more connections you have the more profiles of your first and second level connections you’re able to see.
Another way to look at it is this: If you attend a networking event or a Trade Show where there will be lots of people you had never met before. Would you stay by yourself the entire time, or would you only talk with the people you already know? If you view LinkedIn as a professional online networking platform that allows you to build connections and develop relationships, you might find it easier to make an informed decision.
Accepting and rejecting connection requests
Here are some additional thoughts on accepting and rejecting connection requests. Again, these are personal decisions, but outlining them here can provide you with additional ways to evaluate your response.
- You already know the connection and you have a good relationship with them.
- The connection is not personally known, but you have something in common such as being from the same geographical location, from your same school, or their profile reveals that they would be an asset to your business in some way.
- The connection is not known, but he or she sent you a customized invitation, which demonstrates that they understand what LinkedIn is about.
- The person was introduced to you by a mutual connection.
One of the few reasons you should probably consider rejecting an invitation to connect is –
- The invitation to connect comes from a person that has an incomplete profile, no photo and no work experience listed in their profile.
I will personally accept a connection request from someone I know who does not have a photo, or someone in my geographical area and we have connections in common because I see this as an opportunity to assist them in getting started. My message after accepting their request is along the lines of, “It’s great to see you here on LinkedIn. 🙂 Thank you for inviting me to connect and I cannot wait to see your beautiful (or handsome) photo on your profile. If you need help with uploading your photo, just give me a call and I’ll be happy to walk you through on the phone.” If they need more support they are welcome to use my LinkedIn coaching services.
Now, it’s your turn. What is your position on inviting others to connect or accepting invitations to connect on LinkedIn?