LinkedIn networkMany moons ago, I wrote a MarketingProfs blog post about LinkedIn networking and being open to engaging with new people – even if you don’t know them. Help! I Have Social Media Rejection Syndrome! prompted such a flurry of responses that I created a white paper on the subject. Well, three years later, my advice has been validated!

Dan Schawbel, personal branding guru, recently blogged: Why I Accept All LinkedIn Contact Requests.

In it, he suggests that “you should accept all of your LinkedIn contact requests even if you don’t know the person. There’s always a lot of criticism around this piece of advice because people are still very private, aren’t trusting and don’t understand the power of having a larger network on LinkedIn.”

And, here are Dan’s 5 reasons:

  1. Referrals. The best way to get a new job is through a referral, anyone will tell you that. By increasing your first degree contacts, you have more people who can introduce you to hiring managers that you didn’t have access to.
  2. Research. I view LinkedIn as a professional research directory. It’s the white pages for professionals. If you don’t have a large network on LinkedIn, then you are limited in the number of profiles you can view when searching.
  3. Awareness. Who knows how that person found you in the first place. When you put yourself out there, sometimes people find you interesting so they connect with you. If you’re ultra paranoid, then why not just email them and find out how they found you?
  4. Influence. The number of contacts on LinkedIn has an impact on your Klout.com score. Klout is becoming more important to employers who are looking to identify talent that has social media influence. If you have a low Klout score, it can hurt your chances of getting a job in some industries like marketing, PR, media and communications.
  5. Branding. The size of your network on LinkedIn if visible up to five hundred contacts. If you don’t have many contacts, then you will appear to be less valuable because your network is your net worth. If a recruiter is choosing between hiring two people based on LinkedIn profiles, the person with 500 contact will beat out the person with only 20 every time.

Even if finding a job isn’t your objective, LinkedIn is a wealth of information on your prospects. Whether you work for a business or nonprofit, prospect research is important for acquisition. Plus, being open to invitations means that more people will see your posts, discussions, etc. And, they will come to you!

Have you been accepting all or most of your LinkedIn invitations? Why, or why not?

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6 Responses to Being Open to LinkedIn Requests

  • I think I fall somewhere between you and Robby, Elaine. I acknowledge that the larger the network, the greater its value. I use the $100 test: Is this someone I would feel comfortable loaning a hundred bucks to? Odds are, if it’s someone I’ve “met” through a LinkedIn contact request or seeing them occasionally in a LI discussion, the answer is no.

    Contacts don’t have to be my BFF, but there has to be a connection. Your suggestion to email someone you don’t know requesting a connection is a good one and doesn’t mean you’re even slightly paranoid. If the person replies, “just trying to build my network,” it doesn’t add any value for me or my existing network.
    -Todd
    If my contacts are $100, an introduction is $1000. The first point you raise above about referrals brings this home. Say someone asks me for an introduction. If the context of the request is different from the context in which I know the person, I will probably refuse. I wrote about the art of the LinkedIn introduction (link from my name); even with a close connection, context setting is just as important for the intermediary as your intended target. Without that connection, the odds of successfully connecting plummet.

    • That’s some litmus test, Todd! $100? :)

      I understand what you mean about connection. Sometimes, however, I’ve received requests to connect people and they don’t always state their motives. This doesn’t happen frequently, so I usually pass it on.

      Thanks for weighing in!

  • If you accept everyone on LinkedIn, then you’re not creating a network.

    What you’re creating is a list. It’s a list of people (or spammers) who are willing to connect with anyone.

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t connect with more people. But connecting will EVERYONE or (almost everyone) completely devalues the social network as a network. It turns LinkedIn into a phone book, where there are no specific connections—-just a big list.

    • Robby, you make a good point. I don’t want to invite spammers either. And, unlike what Dan is suggesting, it shouldn’t just be about quantity without a sense of commonality.

      What I do is connect to anyone within my profession or related to it. Others may include people from companies that could be potential business suppliers or personal service providers.

      Within that group, I try not to deny anyone. And, for the mostpart, those are the people who invite me anyway.

      Thanks for weighing in!

  • Elaine,
    I fully agree! And, many nonprofits also don’t know about Board Connect — a valuable tool for helping find Board talent (and in my opinion, donors too.) It’s free for nonprofits and most valuable if they have 350+ first degree connections.
    ~Maria

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