LinkedIn is different from Facebook and Twitter and all the other social networks taking up space on your dashboard. For one thing, it’s the only network that’s purely for, well, networking. Using it requires a shift in thinking that some people find difficult, especially if they’re used to the more weekend-friendly networks. When, for example, should you decline to accept a request to connect?
The short version is, don’t accept LinkedIn requests if you don’t know, at least slightly, the person who sent them.
“I stopped accepting connection requests from total strangers. And I stopped sending them to people I haven’t met or haven’t actually worked with, too,” writes Kim Lachance Shandrow at Entrepreneur. “If I don’t know you, have never directly done business with you, and we don’t even work in a remotely similar industry and have zero connections in common, please don’t ask me to connect with you on LinkedIn.”
The reason? On LinkedIn, Shandrow points out, “your good name is on the line.” You’re not risking a news feed full of strangers’ throw-back Thursday photos, or a few spammy tweets from an easily unfollowed advertiser. You’re actively participating in the degradation of the quality of your network. And that translates directly into dollars and cents down the road.
The opposite is also true: just as you shouldn’t accept requests from spambots and people who found your name on the internet, you also shouldn’t send requests to folks you don’t know. In order to build a strong network, you need to use LinkedIn to forge a real connection with other people. That means not contacting people you don’t know, or wouldn’t do a favor for, and not sending the standard, uncustomized request-to-connect text.
Be a real person, even if you’re reaching out via a digital tool.
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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt writes about work-life balance, stress management, and other topics relating to what makes us happy at work. A full-time freelancer, she deals with stress by blurring the lines between life and work to the point where the two spheres are barely separate. The happiest day of her career was when scientists proved that looking at pictures of cute animals makes us more productive.