To connect, or not to connect. That is the social question.

When I joined LinkedIn back in 2004, I followed a logic that enabled me to very quickly build the available reach of my network by connecting to three super-nodes. Those nodes offered me access to millions of 2nd and 3rd degree profiles that otherwise would have taken me a decade to create using LinkedIn’s guidelines of connecting only to people whom I know.

Since connecting to these three individuals, I  have followed LinkedIn’s own practice guidelines considering how we (non-recruiters) use LinkedIn: to exchange introduction favors.  Since I only connect to people I know, I’m able to forward requests for introductions with confidence.  If I were connecting to people whom I do not know, then I’d find myself choosing between two awkward choices:  (a) “Sorry, I don’t know you well enough to recommend to my connection they receive your request,” or (b) “Dear connections, I don’t know and can’t recommend the person who is asking me for a referral to you but here is the request.”

My answer to the question of how to handle connection request from people I don’t know is that I ignore requests from people whom I don’t know or recognize.  If connecting with me is important to that person, they’ll send another note, and another.  If they are simply network-building, they’ll never ask again.  If the person does ask again, I’ll take the time to find out what they’re really after.  If it turns out we actually do know each other, I may still not connect to them for the same reasons I mentioned – not being able to stand behind a request for access to one of my connections.  Sometimes, however, someone I don’t readily recognize or yet know will reach out to me and I’ll find that I really do want to be connected.

via Question: what’s the current etiquette on handling a connection invitation from someone you don’t know? I’ve received several invitations from people with whom I have no obvious connection. | LinkedIn.

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