should you accept connections from strangers on LinkedIn?

A reader writes:

What are your opinions on adding someone you don’t know to a LinkedIn account? I recently received a request from someone who I don’t know who attended my university. He has an unprofessional LinkedIn photo (something appropriate for Facebook, but not offensive). I have made it a rule for myself on LinkedIn to not request or add people I don’t know, even if they are in my networks, to keep my profile authentic. I wanted people and recruiters to get an accurate idea of who I am. I felt if I had a bunch of people on my page who I didn’t know, it would make me look bad. I also didn’t want an employer or recruiter to ask someone about my personal character and have them not know anything about me. What do you think?

I’d love to hear other people’s take on this, because I’ve always wondered about it myself.

I tend to ignore requests to connect on LinkedIn from people who I don’t know and who don’t offer me some reason to connect anyway (i.e., they’re a stranger to me and they just send the generic connection request email, without customizing it to explain why they’d like to connect). After all, I’m not going to recommend someone who I don’t know, and I’d be wary of introducing people in a professional context when I don’t know one (or both) of them.

But I know there are others who accept every connection request they receive — presumably because they’ve decided that it’s good to expand their network, even if it means their “network” will be full of people they don’t know, because the connections might be useful at some point in the future. I just wonder how useful it can really ever be. They’re not real connections, after all; they’re just names linked together electronically.

That said, I should acknowledge that I hardly ever use LinkedIn, so I might just be really off-base on this. How do others handle connection requests from strangers, and why?

{ 75 comments… read them below }

  1. JPT

    I’ve added people who work where I work, but we haven’t necessarily met. We just know each other through the grapevine because we do the same kind of work. I don’t use it a whole lot, for me it’s more like an online resume to put myself out there and build a network. But I’m not on it updating a status or sharing information the way I use Facebook. I definitely wouldn’t add a total stranger. I’d need to have had SOME sort of contact with them or be affiliated in some way.

    What are your opinions on adding someone who interviewed you for a job, but you didn’t get the job? I’ve been wondering about this one lately. I’ve always thought it’s an OK idea as long as you left things on a good note… i.e. you were very professional in your communications with them, your interview went well but they just went with someone else. It might be good for networking in the future if you might consider a position with their company again, but I’m wondering if it’s also a bit stalky? Again, to me LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, doesn’t have much personal info, so I really don’t see it that way, but I’m questioning that.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think if you interviewed with them (a real interview, not just a brief phone screen), it’s great to add them. I get a lot of connection requests from job candidates who I never interviewed (they applied, I rejected them), and I don’t accept those because I’ve never even had a conversation with them, but I would definitely accept them from someone I’d interviewed.

      1. Kimberlee

        I actually don’t think I would add people I’d just interviewed, unless they were AWESOME. Like, super awesome. But I actually really don’t like getting invites from people I don’t really know, even if I liked them enough to interview them. Its just weird to me.

    2. Corporate Cliff

      In my opinion, getting “linked” with someone you’ve interviewed with is a much better version of “we’ll keep your information on file in case new opportunities arise.” It’s happened to me twice where I got linked to the person I interviewed with, only to get an InMail a few weeks or a month later with new openings that they felt I’d be a good fit for.

      If you link up and nothing comes of it after a while, no harm no foul. If you don’t, you might miss out on a great opportunity.

    3. K

      I agree, that at minimum this is someone you have had a conversation with at the very least. Also, depending on the nature of your industry, this may be a person you are very likely to see around when they land elsewhere. Sometimes these are good people to keep track of.

  2. Dawn

    I think it depends on what you want to use your LinkedIn for. I am totally happy in my job, but I have written my LinkedIn to reflect my achievements over the course of my career as well as to show some of my personality. I will happily connect with people who know some of the people I know on LinkedIn, or with recruiters or bigwigs who are movers and shakers that it could be useful to be connected to. Some random guy from Spokane? Nope, that’s going in the trash.

    1. Not-unsocial Manager

      I think Dawn is describing a link “up” strategy where you (I don’t mean you personally, Dawn. I mean the generic “you” throughout) will link to someone who can help you. What about linking across to your peers or linking down to people you can help – do you link to them?

      Another question: What do you say to ms. shaker or mr. mover when you send an invitation? What’s in it for them?

      One outcome of this approach is that you are linking to people who might derive economic benefit from being connected to you (and vice versa). Do you accept invitations to connect from financial planners, real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and others looking to establish an economic relationship. And, if not, why not? Since those people are only using social networking in exactly the same way you are?

      Just asking …

      1. K

        again, do I use this person looking for an economic relationship? Do we know each other from somewhere else? Will they be of use to you in a foreseeable future? All depends on what you use this particular network for.

  3. EJ

    I’ve added people I work with but I mainly add people who are in the same groups as me and thus, they are in the industry in the same city that I live in.

  4. Steve

    Thank you for not using Linked in all that much.

    I don’t either and was worried I was not one of the cool kids. I feel much more validated.

    1. tango

      I know I’m not one of the cool kids. I keep telling myself I’m a rebel for not jumping on the linkedin bandwagon full force even though it seems everyone says it’s one of the best ways to get a job.

      I hate networking in any shape or form.

      1. LeeL

        Maybe not the best way to get a job but I actually got an interview and accepted a job from someone that found me on LinkedIn.

  5. Harry

    I do not accept strangers if they are in totally different industries / regions and I have had no previous interaction with them. I am quite active in discussions in the groups I am involved in. If I had an interesting interaction of value, people tend to add you and vice versa. I’ve made some good connections I would have otherwise never made.

  6. Kelly O

    I kind of wonder about that too, or why you’d even want to connect with someone with whom you don’t have any connection. (Or the people I know from high school who have LinkedIn profiles but it says “Stay At Home Mommy” with no job experience listed at all. I’ve found many of them were doing Mary Kay or something on the side, and use LinkedIn and Facebook to try and round up sales.)

    If there is no mutual connection I don’t accept it. I’ve also been known to go back and run through mine to make sure I really know everyone on some level. If I don’t recognize the name, I remove the connection.

    1. ChristineH

      Are users notified when someone deletes you from the list of connections? I’m thinking of cleaning up my profile a bit too, but don’t want to offend anyone.

      1. Corporate Cliff

        No notification is sent when you remove someone. Most social networks realize how offensive this could be taken and so are mindful about it. It won’t stop them from noticing that you aren’t on *their* list anymore, however.

      2. Unknown Genius

        You can remove them but you will remain “their” connection, sucks learnt it the hard way.

  7. Rebecca

    I always wonder about the invites I get from COMPLETE strangers. At least write me a note instead of the generic form so I have some clue why I should accept! I received one recently from someone that has no picture, and who’s name and experience are not familiar to me, nor do we have anyone in common – but he sent it to both my personal and business emails. My personal email isn’t that easy to get, so I’m wondering if I should ask him how I know him or just ignore the invite?

    1. Another Emily

      I would ignore the request in your shoes. If this is a thing you can do on LinkedIn and it would make you feel more comfortable, you could block him too.

      1. Anonymous

        Why would you block this person after one request to connect? Unless he’s sending repeated requests or is being obnoxious in some other way, why would you do that?

        In this case, it seems as likely that he does have a reason to connect but the recepient just doesn’t remember what it might be.

        My $0.02

    2. GWFerg

      I think this guy is using LinkedIn’s feature to find people you already know. You can let LI access your e-mail account and it will scan through all of your contacts or people you have ever sent an email to, and it will send them the generic lets connect message.

      I learned how it worked retroactively because when I first started using LI (about a year ago, and still in college at the time) I would get requests from fellow students (most of whom I had no clue who were. Most schools have a server that has every user (student, staff, etc.) pre-loaded into your contacts, so when LI went into their e-mail it assumed that the entire address book (+15K) in my case was a connection.

      Thankfully I have never used this tool, and don’t plan to either.

      The other possibility is that you showed up in his “people you may know” area. This is another device LI uses to “help” people build their networks. I am not entirely sure how it works but generally it shows your 2nd degree and some 3rd degree connections, people in the same groups as you, same location, industry, or any other identifying factor you have put on your LI.

      This feature is interesting in that it can predict connections, however, I rarely use it unless (like most of the other commenters) we have actually met or know one another. Not to say I haven’t been tempted (LI thinks I know most of the C-level execs at my dream job company because I periodically post about their company).

      Just 2 possibilities for you to consider. As for your situation, me personally, I usually accept all invitations and respond to the message with a “I’m sorry but I don’t think we have met before. If we have, I want to apologize for not remembering you, can you please refresh my memory?” message. If they give a valid answer (or even just tell why they are interested in connecting) then no-harm/no-foul, if not, then I simply disconnect from them.

      *sorry for the long post

      1. Dana Sarah H.

        I don’t agree in the “no harm no foul” idea. Once you’ve linked to them, they can get view all of your contacts – so I decline unless I know them. If I think it might be a work inquiry, I send a message asking if that is the case. Usually I receive no reply and I then decline and say I don’t know them. They are probably scammers of some sort.

  8. Jamie

    I don’t accept connections from strangers – so many sales people and recruiters to me it’s just opening one more avenue for people to spam me – and who wants that.

    However, I have accepted people whom I’ve known from forums or professional groups online – if we’ve communicated directly and I feel it makes sense. I never request those connections, but rarely refuse unless it smells like a set up for a sales opportunity.

    Maybe I’m just anti-social, or am looking at this wrong, but if I have no knowledge of someone and couldn’t speak about them one way or another, I don’t get the point in the connection. Where’s the benefit in that?

    1. Kelly O

      I definitely add people I know from online forums; granted the vast majority of people I “know” are from online forums – that’s what a few years of moving hither and yon will do to you.

      But those people usually write me a note saying “hey, this is The Chocolate Teacup Factory Manager from AAM” or something like that. (Seriously, Chocolate Teacup Factory, I cannot quit you.)

  9. ChristineH

    At first, I told myself I would never accept connection invites from strangers, but have loosened up a little bit. If it’s a generic invitation–even if they indicate me as sharing a mutual LI group or school–it’s getting ignored. However, if you personalize it, it shows me that you’ve at least given it some thought, thus I’m more likely to accept, especially if it appears that we have mutual professional interests.

    What bugs me are people who indicate me as a “Friend” (when you’re filling out the invite) when we’ve never personally been in contact. It’s usually someone from a mutual LI group.

    Here’s a weird one: The other day, I got an invite from someone from a mutual LI group who indicated me as a colleague at a university I’ve had zero contact with. I wrote him back politely telling him this, thinking he had me confused with someone else (I have a pretty common first and last name). However, he wrote back and explained why he invited me, but didn’t even acknowledge the error. I thought he came across a bit defensive, so he went right into the trash. lol.

  10. The Other Dawn

    I’ve added our vendors (people whom I’ve dealt with from time to time) as well as other people I know in the industry. I’ve also added people I’ve worked with in the past. I would never add a stranger.

  11. Rachel B

    I don’t accept requests unless I 1. recognize the requester and 2. can say something positive about their work or personality. I’m probably being overly cautious, but that’s been my approach so far.

  12. Chocolate Teapot

    I don’t accept requests from current colleagues, but previous ones are fine. My rule of thumb is that LinkedIn is to help trace former colleagues (e.g. your ex-boss who may be able to act as a future reference, or somebody with whom you used to work who is in contact with somebody else who could be useful to know in the future).

  13. Julie

    I also don’t use LinkedIn very much, though I do maintain a profile. As a general rule for all my social media (including Facebook, G+, Livejournal, etc.), I don’t add anyone to my network that I haven’t met in person. I’ve made a few exceptions on occasion, but in general, if I haven’t met you at least once, I’m probably going to reject your request.

    1. The gold digger

      Exactly. And if I knew you 20 years ago and we haven’t spoken since and you’ve changed your name, maybe you should send a little note explaining who the heck you are.

  14. Mark

    I agree that it’s silly to link to people you don’t know, so I don’t accept invitations from people I don’t know. I also think it’s immature to artificially inflate one’s “popularity”. Grow up!

    People who encourage connections from strangers are known as LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networker), find out more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LinkedIn_Open_Networker

    Some people also do it to spam you, there’s a different name for those people…

    Linking to people you don’t know is against LinkedIn’s policy, and LinkedIn may restrict a user’s account if too many people click the “I don’t know this person” link on the invitation.

  15. Anonymous

    I agree with the OP about keeping LinkedIn profiles authentic. However, LinkedIn is about professional networking. If you go to a networking event, you’re going to be meeting other professionals in the industry that you might not already know. LinkedIn should be treated with that same attitude.

    I’ll accept requests from people I don’t know who are 1) in my field/industry AND 2) part of an existing connection’s network. Very frequently, they’re professionals who have many more years experience than I have. I view the fact that they’re interested in connecting with me just after viewing my profile and website as a positive thing.

    Occasionally, I’ll get a request from someone from a completely unrelated field who doesn’t even live in the same as me. Those are the requests I don’t accept.

  16. Web dev and HM

    I accept invitations from anyone I’d accept a business card or resume from. I don’t see the difference. I suppose that should tell you how much I value LinkedIn.

  17. Elizabeth

    I used to refuse from those I didn’t know, but I’ve loosened up a bit. If someone went to the same school as me or worked at the same organization, I might add them. Perhaps they remember me, but I don’t remember them? Or is someone’s profile just looks interesting, like the type of person I might want to contact in the future about a job (giving or receiving a job offer), I might add them. I guess this is because I haven’t ever asked or been asked for a recommendation through the site. I think of it as more of a first point of contact for networking. It isn’t that different to connect through the site than it would be for me to meet someone at a conference once and exchange business cards. I know we like to feel like it is different to shake someone’s hand and see their face, but really, how much do you know about someone when you’ve met in person only briefly?

  18. Piper

    I accept requests from recruiters or people within my industry. I use LinkedIn as a networking tool and has been, hands down, the most valuable job search tool I’ve ever used. I got my last job through it, as well as several interviews, and now that I’m hunting again (and relocating to an area notorious for only hiring through recruiters), it’s allowed me to connect with people who can help me find work. In my past two job searches, I got more interviews through LinkedIn than I did through sending my resume through posted ads.

  19. Suzanne

    I somehow accidently invited everyone on my email contact list to connect to me with LinkedIn. (I learned a lesson on reading carefully those little pop-up boxes that appear now and then.) I’m now connected to a few people that I don’t know well but I with whom I had corresponded via email at some point in time. I’m sure there were a few others who are still scratching their heads wondering why in the world I asked to connect.

  20. Charles

    Somewhat off topic; but still related to linkedIn. This morning I applied to a job where the company asked one to apply through a LinkedIn or Facebook connection. First time that I have seen that!

    The company asked you to give the company access to all of your linkedIn account (I assumed for viewing, not for edting purposes); as my LinkedIn account does not have a complete resume I declined and, after searching a bit, I did manage to find a link through their website to apply “the old fashion way” through their job posting database.

    So, if more companies are doing this and they start to only allow LinkedIn or Facebook accounts to apply I can see that one’s profile and links can become of great importance in looking for work.

    1. Piper

      I’ve had this happen a few times, too. But even if you apply via LinkedIn, there is also the option to upload your resume and cover letter with the application. For most companies, anyway. There are still a few that you just hit apply and off it goes. I don’t like those because you can’t customize anything for the job.

      1. Charles

        Thanks for letting me know how it works; but, there is also something (and it has always been my dislike of LinkedIn, etc.) that bothers me about having my “rolodex” being made public. For what purpose would this benefit them in deciding who to hire?

        1. Piper

          I’m guessing by rolodex you mean your connections? You can hide those from other people. I actually have mine hidden so you can’t see who I’m connected to, only how many connections I have.

          1. Charles

            Good to know; but, have you ever had a company that you applied to through LinkedIn and then ask if they can see those connections? I’m not sure that I know a polite way to say “sorry, that’s private” without losing the job.

            Slightly off topic; but I already do that with references – not available until I interview. I’m sure this “attitude” has cost me a lot of opportunities.

            1. Piper

              I’ve never had anyone ask to see my connections. It’s never even come up. In fact, LinkedIn as a topic itself has never come up in any interview or with any recruiter who found me through LinkedIn. Strange, but true. I find that most people are just using it as an online resume situation and not looking or asking for the extra fluff.

              In response to your off-topic topic: Me, too. I hate the online application forms that ask me for references. I leave them blank or put “available at interview” if the form allows it. I’m sure it’s cost me interviews as well, but I don’t feel like people who have volunteered to be my references deserve to have their private information thrown around all over the place.

  21. Chris

    I dunno if its my industry but I get connection requests from foreign students looking for jobs (who are obviously not going to be touting their TOEFL scores btw) and people selling startup research products – most of which suck hard. I guess that isn’t much different than selling Herbalife or Mary Kay etc.
    But that being said I’ve made some interesting industry connections with LinkedIn. Its just a matter of evaluation. If someone writes hey I like your white paper on blah blahblah maybe we coukd talk….that is a workd away from greeting I am university student graduate seeking position in fortune 500 us company. I am accounting generalist….
    Like many things in life….use your discretion. Hard and fast rukes suck.

  22. Chris

    And my tablet keyboard turns ls into Ks unless I am super careful. But I can’t see the reply box as I am typing. Lol. Edit comment button would be awesome.

  23. Rana

    I certainly will not add strangers to my network. Where it gets tricky is when the requester is someone whose name I vaguely recognize and they’re connected already to several other people in my network. Those I’m usually willing to add, though even there I prefer only to add people that I would like to develop a relationship with.

    I think it’s a bit of a balancing act in my own case, because I’m shifting careers, and doing freelance work, so some of those new contacts represent not merely an expansion of my past networks, but potential new clients and access to other fields. In any case, it’s not something to do haphazardly; if I’d be startled or displeased to receive an email from a would-be contact, I don’t add them.

    (It’s sort of like my rule of thumb for adding people on Facebook; if I’d be okay receiving an email or phone call out of the blue from this person, I’ll add them. If it would be weird, or if I’d draw a complete blank on their name, I won’t. I also draw a pretty hard line between actual friends (who if they said “let’s meet for coffee” I would) and acquaintances (who I don’t know well enough to meet in person yet). The first group gets to see my posts by default; the second doesn’t. )

  24. B

    I won’t add people I don’t know, except recruiters. I’m in public accounting, so I get a lot of requests from recruiters. I’ve actually met with several recruiters and gone on some interviews that were set up by them, although sadly no new job yet. That and seeing where former coworkers are working now is the only thing I used LinkedIn for.

    1. Guest

      You have to be careful about opening up your connections, if you are not getting the job- recruiters may be poaching on your connections list.

      1. Piper

        I mentioned this above, but LinkedIn does offer the option of turning off connection visibility. It’s a good feature to be aware of and use. I even have the “viewers of this profile also viewed these people” feature turned off on my profile. My profile is all about me and the only links you get are the ones I’ve added to my website and portfolio.

        1. Piper

          Ugh. I have no idea where I was going with that last sentence. I meant to say the only links you see are the ones I’ve added, which are my website and portfolio. And also, any links to articles I’ve shared through status updates.

  25. Beth Robinson

    I’ve had many requests from people I don’t know. I’ve accepted some of them. I see we have something in common and would like to be in the same mental space with them. I’ve ignored others because the request seemed random or I didn’t feel like it.

    In my experience, recruiters aren’t looking at who I’m connected to figure out who I am. They look at what I put on the profile and the recommendations I’ve received and shown.

    However, I have connected with a limited number of Open Networkers and accepted a couple unexpected invites because they had a lot of connections. The bigger your overall network the more recruiters and other people that can find you.

    I agree with everyone who says it’s a personal choice and depends on how you want to use the social site.

    1. Anonymous

      I feel the same way. If they’re in my field, I usually accept if their profile looks interesting. IT can be a small world in many respects, and people do get around. Even if there’s no obvious connection now, there well might be in the future.

  26. Vicki

    How could linking to someone you don’t know well make you “look bad”? How would anyone looking at your profile ever know how well you know each of those people?

    I accept connections from people at my former company even if I don’t know them well (given the work I did, a lot of people knew my name.) I often accept connection requests from recruiters.

    As Beth Robinson says “it’s a personal choice and depends on how you want to use the social site.” But don’t get worried about whether a connection will make you “look bad” or cause your profile to be “less authentic”. How you look and how you define authentic are controlled by YOU not be anyone else.

  27. Liza

    Because my old job involved building a network of potential outsourcing partners, a small portion of my LinkedIn connections are the key contacts at a variety of such companies, whether or not I have actually met them. Since that is no longer part of my job, I am now less likely to do that. I do not accept completely random connection requests if they only use the generic connection request email. I need more context before I accept.

  28. RWPoorman

    CNN Money just had an article early this month titled
    “LinkedIn is a Hacker’s Dream Tool”

    The article warns, “…a gold mine for hackers, who are increasingly savvy in using that kind of public — but personal — information for pinpoint attacks.

    …It’s called “spear phishing,” and it paid off last year in two especially high-profile security breaches…

    But in one arresting case study, self-described “hacker for hire” Ryan O’Horo demonstrated how he used LinkedIn to get inside a client’s corporate network.

    O’Horo created a fake account on LinkedIn, posing as a company employee. He stocked the profile with realistic details — a plausible job history and skill set — plus a few credibility-establishing flourishes like a membership in a local hockey league. From his dummy account, O’Horo sent out 300 connection requests to current company employees. Sixty-six were accepted.

    It’s worth the time to read the whole article.

  29. Dale Williams

    As a recruitment manager it can be difficult to connect with potential candidates on LinkedIn, if you don’t want recruiters to contact you then change your profile so it doesn’t say your looking for work.

    From the opposite point of view as a business director I do accept most, not all, invites from strangers – you can quickly tell the difference between someone who can add value by being a connection and someone who’s just a spammer – if you can’t then makes no difference what you do.

  30. Sandrine

    I am on Linkedin and so far, I only have people I know in one way or another on it : my boss at a previous internship almost ten years ago (and yes, we still contact each other from time to time and I might visit her again soon!) , friends I know I could recommend, people I know and like.

    I got a weird request the other day, but thankfully when I nicely asked the person, he just said it probably was a mistake, so I just deleted his request, and all was fine.

    I would probably add a lot more people if I could, but I’d rather think about why I want someone on my list than just click “add” randomly.

  31. Candace

    One reason to connect to people you don’t know is to expand your “LinkedIn” network which I view similarly and separate from my “personal” professional network. In a lot of instances you will know be able to see who works where unless you have a large LinkedIn network. While you may be happy at your job today, you never know what tomorrow brings. I use my “LinkedIn” network to see the names of people at the companies I target as I would rather write a cover latter that states dear ms smith than dear hiring manager. As this is a public profile, I always except everyone unless I get a weird vibe and you have a creepy photo.

  32. Anonymous

    Just curious – is there a tactful way to indicate in a LI profile that you are seeking a new job? Or how would you indicate you open to people contacting for such?

    1. Candace

      Some people use the headline for this. I would just be careful with your wording as to not sound as if you’re are desperate and it’s about what you want. “I’m looking for a job in x” does not sound very appealing. I would word it as the value you would bring to a potential employer or the previous results your have seen in the past.

      Other ways are to be active in groups. comment often and show you are an expert. then connect to other group members. even if you don’t know them. However, it is better to give them a reason to connect to them. Tell them why and don’t use the standard accept me on LI because we are friends when you really are not.

    2. Rana

      There is a “job inquiries” option you can check off for the “Contact me about” section. That’s pretty subtle, especially if you have that section towards the end of your profile.

    3. Piper

      I use the headline for it (Ex: Senior widget marketer seeking next opportunity) and then I talked about what I do, key accomplishments, and how I can help a company in my summary area.

      I do not necessarily use my current job title in the title piece of the headline because my current title is stupid and flowery and doesn’t make sense to anyone (even me). I use common industry language for what I actually do and where I want to be. And then I make sure those words are also listed in my skills and specialty sections (skills weigh heavily in search on LinkedIn).

      It’s worked for two job hunts, so I guess I’m doing something right. The headline only has 120 characters, so you have to be short and to the point.

  33. Student

    I try to think of it in terms of: “Is there any way I could possibly help the person that I’m connecting to, professionally? Would I?”

    I’d happily connect with people that I don’t know personally, if there’s something useful I could hypothetically offer them. If they do work that I’m interested or experienced with, I’ll add them. If they’re complete strangers, and I can’t figure out how I could help them with a quick look at their profile, then I don’t add them.

    I don’t add strictly personal contacts, either, which made my mother (a housewife with an “embellished” LinkedIn profile) quite angry.

  34. Greg

    I generally don’t accept them from total strangers. But I might consider it if the person wrote a note indicating why they sent the request. The generic notes are one of my biggest pet peeves (though to be fair, LI doesn’t help by having a fairly strict character limit. I understand you don’t want people submitting War and Peace in their requests, but you should be able to write 2-3 paragraphs).

    My other pet peeve is strangers who indicate that they’re a “friend” or that they’ve done business with me (or even that I was a colleague of theirs at some company I’ve never heard of). Why would I start a relationship out with a lie? Also, why does LI prevent you from contacting someone if you admit you don’t know them, but give you carte blanche as long as you say they’re a friend?

  35. Catherine

    Sigh. A bit late to the game, but I love LinkedIn so I thought I’d throw in my .02.

    When I receive an invitation to connect from a random stranger, I will reply but not accept their invitation. It’s one of the options in the inbox for invitations. I then tell them I only add people I know to my network, to protect the integrity of my contacts (I allow them to see who my other contacts are because this facilitates the networking process). I then ask them if they could refresh my memory as to where we met. If they do, or explain why they wanted to connect with me, then I might accept them. Most times, not, unless they impress me.

    As for the visibility of your contact list, only connections can see who your contacts are. If you are not 1st degree contacts, then you can’t see. You can restrict the visibility of your contacts so that none of them can see who your other contacts are. 2nd degree contacts cannot see each other’s email or contact information, but they can request an introduction through you, the shared contact. This means that unless an employer is added to your network (e.g. the hiring manager) they shouldn’t see your contact list to be able to judge one way or the other.

  36. Anonymous

    It all depends…is there a reason to connect? If you check out the person’s profile and you think they’d be an interesting person to get to know, or someone who works in a similar field, or someone who would be a useful business contact, then by all means connect. Because then there’s a reason to connect.

    But if it’s just a generic invite, and the person’s profile doesn’t look interesting to you, then simply ignore the invite.

    I used to only add people I knew. Now I add people I “know” virtually, meaning that we’ve had some kind of interesting online exchange.

  37. Anonymous

    I stay away from the ones with 500+ connections as they just appear to be “collecting” contacts. I have around 70 and that’s all I need for what I do. There are a lot of people engaged in activity that goes nowhere, especially ones that think they can raise money or think they have physical commodities to sell. I avoid them like the plague.

  38. Keith

    I see LinkedIN as an online resume. I don’t want strangers spamming or reaching out to my contacts claiming they know me. Business connections only as far as I’m concerned.

  39. Henrik

    I don’t understand the logic: if you know some in real life, why would you need to add him or her on LinkedIn? I thought LinkedIn was for creating contas with people you don’t know. I have 300+ Linkedin contacts. Of those I know 10-20 people personally. Most of these are either former school friends or my current colleagues. So for the rest, my hundreds of industry connections are actually people I don’t know and I don’t see the problem in this. Im not sure it is what you could called a network but NOT being connected to those people wouldn’t be much of a network either, would it?

    1. Greg

      LinkedIn’s key insight was that it’s not who you know, it’s who the people you know know (say that 10 times fast). So the reason for adding your IRL friends is that you may discover they’re connected to people you want to meet. Say, for example, you see a job you’d like to apply to, and find out the hiring manager is connected to a former colleague, you can ask for an intro. If you weren’t connected to that person, you might not have known to ask them.

      (Incidentally, that’s one of the under-appreciated differences between LI and Facebook, which is much more focused on your first-degree contacts.)

      So Henrik, I’m not going to tell anyone how they should or shouldn’t build and use their network, but for me, the reason I don’t want strangers in my contact list is that, in the event someone asks to be connected to one of them, I want to be able to tell them I know the person and can make an actual introduction.

  40. Ben

    If you don’t want to link with people on Linkedin, then get the hell off of Linkedin. That’s what it’s there for. If I wanted to connect and contact all the people I know, I’d use my damn phone to stash their info in. Why would I need a website to do that? This policy “If you don’t know them then don’t connect with them” is ridiculous. What the hell is Twitter then? People follow others they don’t know because they have common interests. Why would it be any different for Linkedin users? Seriously, it’s okay to connect with strangers on Linkedin as long as you feel their in your industry and have a common interest.

  41. EClark1307

    This morning I logged in and found a request from someone who I have spoken to on the phone as one of several suppliers we may be purchasing from.
    His company is currently the front runner in that process but he has marked the invitation ‘have done business together’. I am of the opinion we have not done business together yet as no deal has been made I’ve simply requested information.
    Should I connect with him? Should I count this creepy approach as a negative in the selection process?

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