LinkedIn Connections – should you connect with people you don’t know?

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If you’ve been on LinkedIn for more than about 5 minutes you’ve probably started to receive invitations from people you don’t know. So the question is: should you accept those invitations?

Connect with people on LinkedInLinkedIn states you should only accept invitations from people you know well. But should you follow LinkedIn’s advice?

While this is a personal decision, I’d like to suggest that yes you should consider adding people you don’t know to your list of connections. Here’s why:

Maybe you do know them

When you get an invitation from someone you don’t know it could be that you’ve just forgotten how you know them.

Now ideally anyone who sends you an invitation to connect on LinkedIn will personalize the invitation and include a note about how you know each other. However, we know the ideal situation doesn’t always exist in real life. If someone is relatively new to LinkedIn they may not know that they can personalize the invitation. Or they may just be lazy and assume you remember who they are.

In either case, if you don’t accept the invitation you lose the opportunity to reconnect.

You want to grow your network

When you go to an in-person networking event, if you’re doing it right you don’t only talk to the people you already know. You use it as an opportunity to meet new people. If you never accept an invitation from someone you don’t already know, you’re not growing your LinkedIn network. If you’re not growing your network, LinkedIn is just adding to your workload without much additional gain.

[bctt tweet=”If you never accept an invitation from someone you don’t already know, you’re not growing your LinkedIn network. “]

They may be a useful connection

One of the rules of networking is that you never know who will become a valuable business resource. Just because somebody doesn’t fit the profile of your ideal client doesn’t mean they can’t become a valuable connection. They may be married to the exact person you need to connect to, they may be best friends with an ideal client or they may just be one of those centers of influence who seems to know everyone. If you turn down an invitation to connect you don’t get the opportunity to find out.

Yes, a lot of people on LinkedIn are just trying to randomly build a large network. However, if just one in 10 people becomes a valuable business partner to you, isn’t it worth it?

You want to turn up in more LinkedIn searches

When you do a search for a particular profession, LinkedIn prioritizes the results based on how closely connected they are to you. Likewise, when someone is searching on LinkedIn for your profession, the more people you’re connected to the more likely you are to show up near the top of the search. By connecting to people you don’t already know, you are expanding your network and increasing the likelihood that when someone is looking to hire a person with your expertise that your name will come up.

These are just a few of the reasons why you might want to accept an invitation on LinkedIn from someone you don’t already know. Please read the second post in the series where I talk a little about some of the pitfalls of building a LinkedIn network with people you don’t already know.

Andrea J Stenberg


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