Who Should You Connect With on LinkedIn?

Who IS this person?

If you’re like me you will get regular connection requests from people you don’t know. Maybe 3 or 4 each week.

If you’re like my partner, and work in payroll, HR or recruitment for a large company, you will get dozens every day.

You can’t connect with them all, or you’ll end up with a Linked In newsfeed that looks like a dog’s breakfast. Before I made up my mind to implement quality control on my Linked In connections list, I had several connections that I had to disconnect from because I could see them making sleazy and inappropriate remarks on other people’s posts! Likewise the random endorsers.

So how do you decide who you want to connect with? To help you make the online networking process simpler, I have listed 5 criteria, of which all your connections should meet at least one.

1. I know and respect the person in real life.

If you know them in real life, it is much easier to confirm the connection. This also goes for family and friends. Yes, even though it’s a professional network, your family and friends are also in the workforce or in business and they may even have connections you might wish to make contact with at some point. But respect is essential: if it’s someone you can’t stand or don’t want to be connected with or would never do business with, ignore.

2. I have dealt with the person online and admire the way they work.

You may have never met the person in the flesh but you have interacted on social media, a blog or via email. Don’t worry, they are probably not the boogeyman and it is safe to connect with them. Linked In is a much less personal platform than Facebook or some of the others, so you are not letting strangers into your life by connecting with valuable people on Linked In.

3. I have never met this person but their profile interests me.

Sometimes a random request comes through from someone and you cannot recollect ever having dealt with them before. Take a look at their profile. Are they in a similar industry or a target market? Do they share mutual connections with you? Do they post articles or news that interests you? Or do they have thousands of connections without any rhyme or reason? Use your discretion. It is okay to connect with an unknown but I suggest sending them a quick message to make the introduction more personal. You can even ask what prompted them to connect with you. If they don’t get back to you in a couple of weeks, it’s probably not worth the connection – they are probably just a connection junkie.

4. They have sent me a personalised connection request.

I always prefer a personalised request. This usually means the person has selected you as a potential connection and values your decision to confirm that connection. They might even explain why they wished to connect in that message. I do not always, but usually do, connect with people when they make the effort to send a personalised invitation.

5. It is an introduction request from a trusted connection.

If I receive a request to be introduced to someone from a mutual connection, I first think about the connection who suggested the introduction. Do I trust their judgement? If yes, I then apply the above criteria to the suggested connection to decide whether I would like to connect.

And that’s it.

If I don’t know the person, see nothing of interest in their profile, don’t respect or admire them either in real life or online, and they don’t even bother to personalise the request, then I click ignore. It’s a way of keeping your connections quality, not quantity (which is the new and evolving golden rule of social networking).

What are the criteria you use for fielding connection requests on Linked In?