Should I Accept Random Connection Requests?

By Nigel Cliffe

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Do you often hesitate and ponder if you should hit the ‘accept’ button on a mysterious or unknown LinkedIn Connection request?

A Connection of one of my Connections, Freelance Copywriter and Copy Editor Laura Barritt, recently posed the below question on LinkedIn:

Random connection requests: accept or deny?

I’m not talking about obvious spammers. (Lloyd, who suggested I could exchange my IT expertise for US$ cash-in-hand: I’m talking about you.) Rather, those who seem like good eggs and who, for whatever reason, didn’t send a message with their Connection request. (And I’ve not heard of them before.)

I’ve been given two (very different) pieces of advice from people who use LinkedIn a lot:

1) Accept every connection request. You need to seem well-acquainted.
2) Only accept personalised invites. They’re the only genuine people you want to hear from.

Am I missing opportunities if I ignore option one? Or am I upholding LinkedIn etiquette with option two?

Seasoned LinkedIn-ers: what do you do?

Laura admitted that if she knows the person, and the Connection Request is obvious, then she is fine with not receiving a personalised message with the Connection Request message but was concerned whether those previously unheard of people who wanted to Connect with her were just going to spam her and wondered if she should Connect with them to find out.

My Answer to the Random LinkedIn Connection Request Conundrum Would Be This:

A great question and one that deserves a considered answer. I would say that Connection Requests can come from all corners of the world, and each should be treated on its own merit.

Very few Requests come with a personalised message. So, if you have a policy of not accepting those without one, you may be discounting many useful Connections. (Many people use their mobile phone for the bulk of their LinkedIn experience and don’t even know about the feature of personalisation.)

I strongly believe that your network should be built on and around people who can add value to your life, or you can add value to theirs. It should be built on quality and relevance, not on the belief that gaining vast numbers of Connections is some sort of badge of honour. When someone wishes to Connect with me that has 25,000 connections, I will rarely connect. They don’t need any more irrelevant connections!

(If you’re intrigued you might like to read my list of reasons Why I Won’t Be Connecting with You.)

Having a focused network also ensures that your LinkedIn experience remains effective. You are more likely to have useful content in your feed, the more focused you are with whom you Connect.

There are many more reasons I could go into, but in short, numbers are not the point. Engagement is key, and you can only have that with a much smaller number of highly relevant connections.

Do You Work in the Same Industry or Geographical Area?

Eleanor Goddard of Furnish and Fettle, an interior design company in Yorkshire, takes the approach of visiting the LinkedIn Profile of the perspective Connection (which I too would always recommend before accepting) and makes a snap decision. If they are local to where she is based and/or do something she is interested in or operate within her industry, she accepts. If the person is an SEO expert based in India, it’s a no from her!

Check to See If You Share Mutual Connections

Freelance Editor Claire Gell feels more comfortable accepting Connection Requests from people who send a personalised message with the request and people who share a good number of mutual Connections with her. Mutual Connections imply you’re like-minded people or, if you get on with the same people, you’re likely to get along with each other at least in a professional capacity!

Avoid Those Who Send You Templated Sales Messages

Meanwhile, female entrepreneur mentor Sally Oddy commented that she blocks and removes new Connections who immediately send her a templated sale Direct Message after Connecting. She also added that she doesn’t accept every Request but uses her own discretion to determine if they are relevant to her network or in her ideal target market. If they are, she accepts but if she can’t spot any synergies it’s a no from her.

Where accompanying a Connection request with a personalised message is concerned, Sally revealed that she personally doesn’t mind if the Request comes with a personalised message as she conceded we all want to expand our networks on LinkedIn (and she’s not wrong there). For her, the only time a personalised message has any relevance is when the Connection referring to a specific business opportunity.

Laura concluded that she would quite like a personalised message with a Connection Request from people she didn’t know at all as that suggested that they were unlikely to waste her time with spam or pesky sales pitches.

What About Accepting Connection Requests from Your Competitors?

Should I Connect with my competitors? This is a question I get asked a lot and I have a very clear and decisive strategy when it comes to Connecting with competitors on LinkedIn and you might be surprised. But you might find a key TIP about your LinkedIn privacy settings even more revealing…

If you’re wondering what to do if your competitors are commenting on your LinkedIn posts, head over to this blog post.

What are your thoughts? How do you decide to hit accept on your Connection Requests?

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