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Guest post: Exactly who are you LinkedIn to?

Posted by Colleen Wainwright on

We’ve talked about LinkedIn here on the Marketing Mix before, but since it’s a new and evolving technology, there are always new questions, techniques and protocols to be explored. Marketing Mentor’s own tech wizard, Alan Seiden, isn’t immune–today, he poses the perennial question…

Do you accept LinkedIn invitations from strangers?

Lately I’ve been getting LinkedIn invitations from people I don’t know. They either don’t introduce themselves at all, or say, "I saw your name on so-and-so’s mailing list."

Till now, I’ve linked only with people I’ve worked with and know well. When I look at my LinkedIn connections, I see people whom I’d instantly recommend to others, and who would recommend me.

That’s the way the system is supposed to work. When I accept someone’s invitation, I tacitly say, "You may contact my other connections with my blessing." The opposite is also true: my connections would vouch for me. If, however, I tried to contact a connection of someone who didn’t really know me, and who didn’t know his other connections either, I might be wasting my time.

LinkedIn’s user agreement prohibits "Using LinkedIn invitations to send messages to people who don’t know you or who are unlikely to recognize you as a known contact."

Clearly, the founders of LinkedIn would like us to limit our networks to people we know well. Should we do that–maintain a smaller list of high quality connections–or seek a larger list of questionable ones?

Also, when strangers invite you, do you try to get to know them? If so, what do you say?

In other words, could today’s stranger become tomorrow’s valued connection?

Colleen’s note: I only add people I know, but I use the word "know" loosely–basically, people I’ve worked with or communicated enough with off- or online to feel comfortable recommending them to a third party. If I don’t feel comfortable with an add, I email the person back, explaining my policy and asking that we keep in touch and add when we’re both comfortable. So far, no one’s been really offended (that I know of, anyway). So, we’re back to Alan’s question…what do you do? What’s your personal policy?

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