I recognize that the value of a social network is in its size, so I’m pretty open to connections on LinkedIn. But some sure seem to be scammers. How do you evaluate or assess potential connections on LinkedIn, Dave?
Congratulations, sounds like you’re what’s known as an “open networker” or, in the LinkedIn world, a LION: LinkedIn Open Networking. You’ve probably seen people that have “LION” by their names without knowing what it meant. Now you do!
The issue revolves around whether you should prioritize quality over quantity with social networks, and there’s a good argument to be made on both sides. Me? I’m also an open networker, but having said that I will hasten to add that I don’t accept every connection, and in particular am leery about accepting connections from people who don’t seem to have much of a track record in their industry yet (sorry interns).
But let me show you how I quickly assess a potential connection and decide whether to accept the connect or reject it.
This is my own strategy, and I make no claim that it’s good, fair or anything worthy of copying or emulation. It’s just how I do it. 🙂
First off, I get 3-7 connection invitations every single day and have a few thousand connections already, so I’m pretty well plugged into the LinkedIn world. This afternoon, here were the people who wanted to connect:
The first thing I do is look to see if any sound dubious or bogus, and in this case, they all look legit, have profile photos and realistic and believable job titles.
If it’s someone who I recognize, of course, I can just move the cursor directly into the LinkedIn menu and accept (or reject) them without going any further:
If you guess that “X” rejects the link and “√” accepts it. But let’s check Steven out just a bit more by clicking on his name.
That moves to his public LinkedIn profile and it’s often easy to spot bogus or scammer LinkedIn profiles at this point:
Based on experience, I generally reject LinkedIn connections from India and China: Those I have accepted have promptly spammed me with sales pitches and non-stop queries, not what I want from my LinkedIn network. Your experience may vary in that regard, of course!
Meanwhile, Steven continues to look legit, with his 3rd level connection to me, list of credible previous jobs, education and 500+ connections. I could accept the invitation right here, but I often go down to the Skills section to see if other people have actually endorsed this person for anything interesting or relevant to my own work.
Sometimes they’re just starting out, so the numbers are a bit small:
But other times you realize that they’re plugged deeply into the LinkedIn universe:
And then there are those people who just have nothing, and they’re profiles I’m very leery about:
The next thing you can check are endorsements: If someone has no skills voted up but a few endorsements, they might be legit. Remember you can also default to rejecting connections too, without much worry. New, better people will be sending invitations soon enough!
Oh, and I already mentioned profiles where there wasn’t a photo, but there are three categories of profile photos that will cause me to reject the connection almost every single time. Here are examples, with the names blanked out for privacy:
Now my criteria are going to be different to yours, but as a general rule, I see LinkedIn as a place where people are connecting so anyone who uses their company logo instead of their own profile isn’t a good fit for my network. And sunlight coming out of a cloud? No. And, finally, a missing profile photo might be for any number of good reasons and I might be insensitive for revealing I am biased against missing profile photo connections, but it’s my network and yes, I’m biased against people who get to see my profile photo but won’t share their own.
There are no hard and fast rules that work 100% of the time, but hopefully this gives you some insight into how I evaluate potential connections on LinkedIn and will help you do the same. Just remember, when in doubt, reject. Good luck!