When your LinkedIn app fills up with connection invitations, what’s your strategy for deciding yes or no?
If you set a general framework for which you’ll accept, it will save time and result in a better network.
If you want an even higher bar, try Alexandra Samuel‘s “favor test.” She recommends only connecting with people whom you’d be willing to ask a favor of or do a favor for. Check out more in Harvard Business Review.
If someone takes the time to personalize an invitation to me with a well-articulated reason for wanting to connect, however, I will generally accept it.
But what about the ones with no personal note? The majority of these come from people I don’t know. Short of simply deleting all of them, sight unseen (which is certainly an efficient option), here’s my strategy:
- People who are fellow colleagues at my current or former employers (opinions expressed in this blog are my own)
- People who work in the same industry of technology, media and telecom
- People from my alma maters – students, alums, professors or staff members
- People who belong to the same professional, community or civic groups that I do
- People who add to the diversity of my network on various dimensions, including industry, geography, career stage, functional area and so on
- People with an interesting background that catches my eye. It’s hard to articulate this one, but I know it when I see it.
- People who have common connections. This comes with a big caveat. An underlying rationale for the connections has to be evident.
Recently I declined invitations from people who had a high number of shared connections, but for which I couldn’t discern a compelling reason why. Often it was because they didn’t work in the same industry or even one that could be considered in some way related.
- People with no clear connection to any areas of my work
- Lack of clarity about what the person or their company does
- A suspicious-looking profile, such as no last name listed or little information included in the profile
- Anything appearing the slightest bit sales related. If I’m looking for a new vendor partner, I’ll go to my trusted network first for recommendations, not to random connections in LinkedIn.
This is my decision matrix, and it may give you some ideas for creating your own. This lets you quickly go through incoming invitations.
It frees up time to proactively create and cultivate your network by sending personalized invitations to a focused group of people.
What’s your strategy?