Who you should (and should not) accept on LinkedIn

Sorting through LinkedIn requests can be overwhelming.

Do you connect with that person who shares your blog posts via Twitter all the time? The hiring manager of a company you’re interested in? Or what about that seemingly credible stranger who could be a valuable business contact?

We posed this question to LinkedIn’s career expert Catherine Fisher, who recommends only accepting people you know and trust — people you’ve worked with, had conversations with, or met at an industry event.

“It’s not a numbers game,” Fisher tells us. “It’s about quality, not quantity.”

The quality of your connections can send a good or bad message, which is why “over-connecting” — accepting any request that lands in your inbox — could ultimately hurt your credibility.

Be selective and connect to the people that are really a reflection of your professional identity, advises Fisher. This way you will create a network that is useful and effective in supporting your career goals.

Another good rule of thumb: “the favour test.”

Ask yourself, “Would I do a favour for this person, or ask a favour of them?” If the answer is yes, accept the invitation. If not, pass.

On the flip side, if you’re interested in reaching out to a potentially valuable contact, approach it as you would any networking event. You wouldn’t pass out business cards to everyone you run into at a cocktail party and walk away; the same goes for LinkedIn.

Rather than requesting them right away, go to that specific person’s LinkedIn profile, identify who you have shared connections with, and ask for one of your first or second degree connections to make an introduction or recommendation.

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