Friend requests and “Likes” and connections – oh my! They may seem like a dime a dozen, but what do they mean in the context of your professional life? When does it make sense to accept an invitation – in the following case, via LinkedIn – and when does it make sense to decline?
Jim McGuinn, Program Director of Minnesota’s 89.3 The Current, reached out to station listeners last week for some advice on this very issue. He had received an unexpected invitation to connect on LinkedIn from Scott Stapp, former lead singer of the band Creed.
Now, folks tend to either love or hate Creed, and McGuinn makes it clear he falls into the latter camp. But regardless of how he – or anyone else – feels about the band, the fact of the matter is, this invitation had some context. After all, both McGuinn and Stapp are in the music industry, and LinkedIn is more about professional than personal networking. And one could argue it’s petty for McGuinn to decline the request over a simple – and subjective – matter of taste. But is a shared industry enough to warrant connecting with someone on LinkedIn you don’t know personally?
EHS-Minneapolis recruiters chime in:
Harry Balley - “I do connect with all people in the industry, and will only ignore some invitations from people who are in sales-type industries that don’t relate with my own. However, I am really cautious on the international front, and don’t see a real need to connect with people that far out of the local or national markets.”
Paul Broberg - “What I look for in a LinkedIn invitation is that the connection must be relevant to me professionally, and have the potential to be mutually beneficial. With those two things in place, I’m happy to accept.”
Elizabeth “Izzy” Eckman - “I connect with a wide audience, from students in culinary school to executive chefs – anyone that is in the industry because if they happen to like a post or comment, it goes to a wider audience of their networks. Culinary students are especially good connections. Whether they’re entering school to begin or to enhance their careers, I definitely see the potential to connect and work with them down the road.”
Kelly Lange - “It’s the Law of Attraction! You never know how a new connection could impact your future. I accept almost every connection request, unless it is international or seems suspicious. I rarely receive requests that aren’t industry-related.”
Other industry experts offer more varied advice. In her article, “Should I Accept that LinkedIn Invitation?”, Alexandra Samuel advises using a “favor test”. If you would do a favor for the person, or would feel comfortable asking them to do a favor for you, accept. If not, move on. Samuel views LinkedIn as an “introduction machine” that only works if one is selective about whom they decide to include in their network of connections.
Online influence expert Stephanie Sammons’s approach is more inclusive, with built-in rules of acceptance that allow for some flexibility based upon your industry and your career goals.
What are your rules for accepting LinkedIn invitations? To you tend toward inclusivity, or are you usually pickier in your approach? Have you ever regretted your decision to accept or deny a LinkedIn invitation? Share your thoughts with us!