I am often asked by clients which invitations they should accept or extend on LinkedIn. Let’s look at this from a few different angles to find out what the right approach is for you.
Can You Connect The Dots?
The most direct answer I offer you is:
If you can connect the dots to this person, then accept the invitation.
What does that mean…connect the dots?
Connecting the dots means that when you see this person’s name and click through to view their profile, you are able to figure out why this person might be someone you’d like to connect with.
Your dots might be different from my dots, or from the dots of your colleague in the office next door…or who used to be next door before work from home became a way of life.
Various Reasons To Accept or Extend An Offer To Connect On LinkedIn
When evaluating your invitations to connect, here are a few reasons you might want to click yes:
- Business Development: This person is someone with whom you’d like to do business. That could mean they are on your immediate radar, or they might be moving up the ranks at the company of a client or potential client, and you would like to build a connection with them that makes that business easier to secure in the future.
- You Want To Learn From That Person: There are going to be many people who you can learn from, whether in your practice area or in the industries you serve. They might be business development, LinkedIn, podcast, content, or virtual presentation skills advisors and coaches (wink, wink), so you would like to learn from them.
- You Would Like To Be Mentioned In Their Content: This ties into business development, but it is worthy of a separate mention. There are many journalists, bloggers, and other influencers who cover your practice area. You see them write about topics you care about and would love to be tapped as a resource. First, you need to be on their radar. Second, you need to have demonstrated your knowledge in the areas they cover so they think of you when writing or recording content. If they don’t know you exist, they can’t mention you. Another important note: Just because they once knew or met you does not guarantee they will remember you.
- You Enjoy Their Company: There are people you want to stay in touch with because you like them. You feel something positive when you are around them, whether that be reading, listening to, or watching their content, or when you are in meetings or webinars with them, or you happen to run into them on the street. These people are worthy of your time because they have some sort of positive impact on your life.
As I said, connecting with others on LinkedIn can be for business development, but it doesn’t have to be.
What I Do Not Recommend on LinkedIn
One of my responsibilities is to make your job more effective by using your time as efficiently as possible when you are trying to build your reputation and your relationships, which leads to building your practice.
Because of that, what I don’t recommend is connecting just to build an unfocused network of hundreds or thousands of people just to show numbers.
I call that a hobby of collecting contacts.
If you have time to make this a hobby, I won’t stop you, but I will encourage you to read on.
What Can It Hurt To Accept Every Invitation on LinkedIn?
Sure, I know everyone tells you to build your connection numbers because 500 seems to be a “magic” number where all sorts of equally magic things start to happen, meaning the LinkedIn algorithms notice you more, show your content to more people, show your name to more people who might want to connect with people just like you, and so on.
The challenge with accepting all invitations is that it goes against the effective and efficient approach I talked about above.
If you accept every invitation sent to you, that means you are going to be connecting with people who you can’t connect the dots to. No matter how hard you try, they don’t fit any of the reasons I offered above in my bullet points, or other dots you have created that fit you best.
What then starts to happen is that, in the limited time you have to visit LinkedIn, you start to scroll through a newsfeed that contains content you might not be interested in. LinkedIn is only going to show you posts from so many people. The algorithms watch your interaction and your interests and match you and your content with those who make sense.
If you have 4000 unfocused connections, you will never see everything they post. This means your actions need to help the LinkedIn algorithms make the best use of your time by showing them what you care the most about in the time you have on the platform. They want you to stay as long as possible, so relevance is key.
Where Are All Of Those Valuable Connections I Had On LinkedIn?
Suddenly, you aren’t seeing as much of the content from those you really want to get to know. Sure, you connected with some really nice, kind people who went out of their way to connect with you, but you also risked seeing the people and information that you need and want to see in the limited amount of time you have to spend on LinkedIn.
I’ve seen more of this surface in the past year or two when clients say they are tired of seeing the “Facebook like” posts on LinkedIn, and that they don’t have time for that. We then need to go through the process of showing and telling LinkedIn we want to see less of that content. That takes time you might not have, so you are tempted to give up on using LinkedIn to build your reputation and your relationships.
I’ve also seen a few posts on LinkedIn lately where LinkedIn users have said they are regularly unfollowing or even blocking people because what they post is irrelevant or uninteresting to them.
Blocking is a great tool to use when someone abuses you, but not when you don’t want to see more of that person or their content. This is a grownup platform for professionals, so it’s a great idea to use it that way.
Use Your Time Wisely. Connect The Dots.
This is your platform and your time. You also have your life and business development goals you need and want to meet. Matching those goals with best practices that fit your limited time and resources is always a smart approach.
Figure out your criteria for accepting and extending invitations. Does that fit with your goals? Once you match your goals with your criteria, then you can use your time on LinkedIn even more effectively and efficiently.
I Am Curious
What is your approach when it comes to accepting or extending invitations on LinkedIn?