How do I evaluate a LinkedIn invitation to connect?
I've been getting the hang of LinkedIn as a more professional alternative to Facebook and am a bit baffled: is there some sort of best practice to quickly evaluate a potential link when I don't recognize their name?
Hmmm.... LinkedIn as a more professional alternative to Facebook. I think I can live with that, though I know just as many people who do business on Facebook than on LinkedIn, and Facebook certainly has a larger pool of people (100 million versus 33 million). On the other hand, Facebook is a mostly social site whereas LinkedIn is much more focused on your career and the job market.
Be that as it may, you probably don't really care which one I like better and use more often (Facebook, but I didn't say that, did I?) other than to know that you can tap into my experience as a long-time LinkedIn user.
Here's what I typically see when I log in to Facebook:
If it's someone I recognize, it's easy: click on the "take action" link adjacent to that person's request and you'll see a couple of easy responses:
Not sure who someone is, though? Well, here's where we get into the philosophy of LinkedIn and, more generally, how to work with social networks. Some people will automatically accept any invitation they receive, using the (quite reasonable) logic that the bigger their pool of connections, the more people they gain access to when they need to find someone or do searches. Others, however, take the opposite tact and only connect to people that they know and would feel comfortable recommending. The former tend to have really big networks, while the latter are often characterized by their dozen or two high quality links.
Quality over quantity. Both work, but it's good to be consistent.
To learn more, click on "Invitation to connect", and you'll jump to a second page that has the specific invitation message they sent you, as well as a bit more information about them:
Here's the trick: put your cursor on their name and you'll get a pop-up that has a nice summary of their current professional situation:
Now I bet you have enough information to intelligently decide whether you want to accept the invitation to link or give 'em the boot.
Btw, Jeff, it's a best practice to write a more personal invitation message, so that it's immediately obvious to the person receiving the invitation to connect how you know them and why it makes sense professionally to connect. But I'm a nice guy (and know Jeff!) so I linked anyway. This time.
One final note: LinkedIn has three possible responses to a link invitation. "Accept", "Don't Know" or "Archive". The first means, yes, you want to connect. The second means "don't connect and don't let them request we link again" (think of it as a sort of digital blacklist) while the third means that you want to just ignore the invite.
That's how I work through my never empty list of invitations to connect on LinkedIn. I hope it's helpful.
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