I recently wrote about the proper way to send a request to connect on LinkedIn. This post generated some great discussion online and with people who I have met in person. That post got me thinking. While I talked about how to send LinkedIn connection requests, I didn’t discuss how to accept connection requests on LinkedIn.
You may be thinking that this is a stupid topic for a blog post. You may be saying to yourself, “It is easy to accept a LinkedIn request. There is an accept button. That is what it is for.” And yes, you would be right, but there really needs to be more strategy than that.
Do you have a policy about from whom you will accept connection requests? Will you accept connection requests in these situations?
- Will you accept a request from a current coworker? That seems pretty safe, right?
- What about a former coworker? That still sounds like a good idea.
- But what about a friend whom you have never worked with, but hang out with every weekend? Ok, you don’t know her professionally, but you still know her.
- Would you accept a connection from someone you met last night for the first time at a happy hour?
- What do you do if a person that you have heard about from multiple business colleagues sends a request to connect?
- What about someone you have never met or heard of, but who works in a similar job or industry?
- And finally, what about someone who works in a different city and industry and didn’t give an explanation about why they want to connect?
As you can see, the answers to these questions can be very different. This is why it is so important to develop a policy for who you will connect to. Think through each of these situations and determine if you would accept the connection.
If you decide not to accept the connection, what do you do? You actually have 4 options for how to respond. Let’s go through them…
Reply (don’t accept yet) – This is a great option if you want to get more information from the person before making a decision. It is perfectly acceptable to reply and ask how the person knows you or why they want to connect. You can also use this opportunity to explain your policy about connecting on LinkedIn. If you only connect with people you know and trust, tell them.
Ignore – Ignore moves the invitation to your archived messages. The person on the other end won’t know that you ignored the request. The LinkedIn help article does warn that the person may send another request. I prefer to use ignore as a way to not accept requests from people I don’t know and don’t think that we can help each other.
Report as spam – I reserve use of this option only for people that are trying to sell me a product and not trying to genuinely connect. I have only had this happen once. In that case, the invitation to connect was telling me about a new chiropractic center in my area and the person made it clear that they were just trying to get me to make an appointment.
I Don’t Know [name] – I also use this option sparingly. This option prevents the person from connecting again and also notifies LinkedIn. If someone gets too many I Don’t Knows, their account may be suspended or deleted. Unless someone is trying to be dishonest about how we know each other, I don’t use this option. Ignore is the nicer way to respond.
While mentioned in LinkedIn’s help documentation, the I Don’t Know person is no longer an option. I remember that it used to be there, but isn’t showing up anymore. If you don’t know someone, I recommend deleting or ignoring the request.
Whatever policy you put into place, the important point is to stick to it. What is your policy? Who do you accept connections requests from?