How to Use LinkedIn: When to Accept or Decline an Invitation

Like many people, right now I have a huge number of pending LinkedIn invitations. LinkedIn advises us to accept connection requests only if we know a person well, but since so many people have thousands of connections, clearly, a lot of LinkedIn users are ignoring LinkedIn’s instructions and are using other criteria to decide whether to accept. I asked a variety of LinkedIn power users how they decide when to accept or decline a LinkedIn invitation to connect.

When to Accept a LinkedIn Invitation

Based on their responses, I created this checklist to decide when to accept or decline an invitation to connect:

Reasons to accept a LinkedIn invitation

– If you are in an industry such as recruiting or sales where it benefits you to grow your network as large as possible, err on the side of accepting. The same is true if you create content and your goal is for it to be viewed and shared as widely as possible.

– LinkedIn’s search algorithm favors people with large networks, so if you want to be found (because you are in a job search or seeking new clients or any other reason), it can be beneficial to you to be generous rather than stingy with accepting connection requests.

– Accept invitations from colleagues at your place of work and in the same industry as you. Some people worry about accepting requests from competitors, but most career experts say that you gain more than you lose by networking within your industry.

– Accept connections from people if you have met them face-to-face, or if you have interacted with them sufficiently that their contact information is in your address book.

– Accept invitations from people with whom you have a lot of shared connections.

– Accept invitations from people who introduce themselves with a personalized and persuasive rationale about why they want to connect. Decline invitations from people who don’t include a personalized request.

– If you accept invitations from people you don’t know well, decide in advance how you will handle their requests to introduce you to someone else you know. If you can’t honestly vouch for the quality of their work, be prepared to say, “I know this person only via LinkedIn…”

Reasons to decline a LinkedIn invitation

– If you only do business in the U.S., you may choose to decline connection requests from people located in other countries.

– If you see a lot of misspellings or weird formatting on a profile, you may not want to be associated with this person.

– Decline invitations from people who look like they spent only a few moments creating their profile so that it lacks much information or detail. Similarly, if the profile focuses exclusively on describing an industry rather than the accomplishments of the person in the profile, that is often the sign of a scammer profile.

– Decline invitations from people who don’t respond when you send them a private message. Or, alternatively, accept invitations from people who look interesting but if you send them a private message and they don’t respond in a week or two, remove the connection. The private message might say something like, “Hello, nice to ‘meet’ you. What motivated you to connect with me here?”

– Disconnect from anyone whose profile seems fake, sketchy, or contains material that offends you. Many people automatically decline any request that comes from a profile lacking a photo or containing a stock photo.

– Disconnect from people who send you unwanted spam.

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Thank you to the LinkedIn experts who contributed to this checklist:
Andrea Berkman Donlon, Founder, The Constant Professional
Becky Robinson, Founder & CEO, Weaving Influence
Bill Corbett, Jr., President, Corbett Public Relations
Bill Fish, Founder and President,
Bruce Hurwitz, Executive Recruiter, CEO, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd.
Carol J. Kaemmerer, Executive LinkedIn Coach, Kaemmerer Group, LLC
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst Coach
Dorie Clark, Author, Professor, Consultant
Dylan Kissane, Content Manager, DOZ
Jason Parks, Owner, The Media Captain
Kelly Donovan, Principal, Kelly Donovan & Associates
Kelly Keating, Co-Owner, Red Letter Resumes LLC
Monique R. Mansour, Professor, Writer
Will Blesch, CEO, Breakthrough Business Branding

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