Saturday, May 7, 2011

Accepting Connections on LinkedIn

I run a group on Linked In with almost 500 global members united to discuss Campus Recruiting, social media & attracting/retaining millennials. As a very active LinkedIn member and discussion lead in my group, I often have people from my group & other groups I belong to ask to connect on LinkedIn.  These are people that know my voice through the group but I don’t know theirs. It creates a conundrum. Do I accept? How many LinkedIn Connections are too many? How valuable is connecting with everyone? How guarded should you be of your connections?

I have spoken before about how important it is to sit down and write a personal social media policy to determine your voice & use of social media sites. I wrote mine approximately 8 months ago and visit it approximately once a quarter as the sites change so often that my usage must also adapt.

Looking back, this is how I had set out to use LinkedIn:

My Profile:
-     This is my 100% professional network
-     I will maintain my 100% completed profile
-     I will seek recommendations based on new opportunities like speaking engagements etc that will further my reputation/work in the field
-     I will not automatically recommend those that recommend me. I will limit my recommendations to only those that I truly want to highlight their skills and abilities to maintain my credibility
-     I will update my profile often with updated information and experiences
-     I will always write a personal connection note when connecting with someone new
-     I will only create introductions between connections I feel will benefit both parties. I will respect and guard my connection’s privacy.
-     I will accept only those connections I have emailed with personally, met at conferences or spoken with. I value these connections as people I can truly do business with.

My Group: Campus Recruiting & Social Media: Finding the Best Millennials:
-     I will create a new discussion topic once a week if one is not created
-     I will send each person requesting to be part of my Group a personal note based on their profile to outline the purpose of the group and how they can gain insights/participate
-     I will encourage my colleagues and new business connections to participate
-     I will promote my group via other sites & encourage new networks to participate but only through relevant engagements versus spamming
-     I will seek out relevant information to create cutting edge discussion topics and facilitate experts speaking in this forum

Note the last bolded bullet under my profile. I currently have over 25 connection requests sitting in my inbox that I haven’t responded to – am I being rude or indecisive in responding? Should I ask for more information on why we should connect or do I immediately decline without responding? I’m torn as some are members of a group I run. Most of these requests don’t send me a personalized message and they don’t try to build a relationship. I sat down today & decided to deal with these invites by sending the below message:

“Thank you for the invitation. Unfortunately I have to decline at this time as I have a personal LinkedIn Social Media policy that I only connect with individuals I know in order to protect my connections and build my network. I look forward to building up a relationship through contributions in our shared LinkedIn Group."

Geeky? Worthwhile? Does it help separate the valuable connections from the duds? If I’m not worth a response or a personalized invite (which none really had), then I have an answer right there. Only a few people have responded and started building a relationship creating value for me to connect. I don’t want to have 1,000 connections as then my connections lose value & I’m not respecting those people who have trusted me to connect.

How do you manage your LinkedIn requests & connections?


  1. Great post Chelsea.

    I think we too blindly accept people into our online circles, as if the increasing tally of friends/contacts contributes to our personal worth or sense of popularity. In actuality it devalues our connections and may in fact hinder our credibility. We will become insignificant once our credibility is lost, and it is indeed a difficult thing to rebuild.

    With a tool like LinkedIn, intended for professional use, it's especially important to be choosy and weed out the duds. Good for you for sticking to our guns. I think your response is perfectly honest and necessary.

    On another note, kudos for sending personal notes when connecting with someone new. Online interactions seem to me to be so automatic sometimes they completely lose value. I am fascinated with the way the internet and the perpetual networks, blogs, tweets, pokes, whatever - are changing our society and how we relate to one another. Not to mention the effect its having on our language and writing skills. I wrote a handwritten letter today and was appalled at my own handwriting. My mother and grandmother have such beautiful cursive and mine is not far from a fifth graders! But I digress.

    Thanks for the food for thought.

  2. Laura
    Thanks so much for the comment. This blog post had over 100+ hits and created quite a few conversations. I am still working on finding the right balance on asking WHY people want to connect and the right wording. I don't want to turn anyone off or some negative but I hope I am worth either a response or a personal message in the first place. Online relationships are still relationships & that means they are about individuals so we must use the same skills we would in inperson conversation!

  3. Thanks for the note Laura. I'm not sure I have all of the answers nor was I right in letting the connections sit in my inbox as I stewed on my response but I want to be authentic and protect my connections. I'm still working on this one but for now, the above is my plan of attack!