As you build your LinkedIn network, you add those who you believe can connect you to Someone Really Important for your career. Believe it or not, you are the Someone Really Important to someone else, with whom others will want to connect.
There are generally four strategies for how LinkedIn users manage their connection requests. You do not need to be a strict adherent to any one of these strategies, but you should put some thought into how you want to grow your network.
Strategy 1: Connect with low-active users you know. These users tend to have the barest minimum of a profile and only a handful of connections. If you know the person well, perhaps you pay it forward, connect with them, and help them improve their profile.
Strategy 2: Follow the rules. LinkedIn encourages users to connect with only those you know in real life, who know you well enough to Recommend or Endorse you. This is a sensible way to begin growing your network. Eventually, though, you will get a request to connect with someone you don’t know (because you are their Someone Really Important!). Whether you accept that request or not will depend on your willingness to adopt another strategy.
Strategy 3: Become a LinkedIn Open Networker (LION), accepting any and every request in an attempt to grow your network as large as possible. LIONs believe that by increasing their first-degree connections, they greatly increase the likelihood that a second-degree connection is the Someone Really Important that they want to meet. The challenge is, because the real-world relationship with many of the first-degree connections is low or non-existent, getting to the second-degree connection they want is still essentially a cold-call. You may decide this is a good strategy for yourself. Still, I suggest that you start out more conservatively until you can see how your network works for you.
Strategy 4: Selectively increase your network. Perhaps you accept a request from someone you don’t know (yet) because they are doing what you want to do, or because they work for a company in which you are interested, or because they simply wrote a compelling connection request. Or you may decide to ignore the request. Whether you decide to accept or ignore the request is up to you. But if you decide No, then simply ignore the request. Do not send a note explaining why. Chances are they simply did not have a good strategy for requesting a connection – which you will, after you read my next post.
Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.