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Professional Networking: To Accept or Not To Accept?
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Professional Networking: To Accept or Not To Accept? - Executive Leadership Articles

Professional Networking: To Accept or Not To Accept?

Executive Leadership Articles

Professional Networking: To Accept or Not To Accept?

If you’ve used LinkedIn even for a little while, you know the problem of receiving connection requests from people you don’t personally know. LinkedIn’s advice is to reject such requests, but is the social networking platform meant to serve as a description of your existing network, or is it meant to facilitate the growth and curation of your network? You already know who you’re connected with, and chances are you already know how to reach those people. If LinkedIn is only an online version of your contacts list, it’s neither very useful nor a wise use of your time.

There are many who accept every connection request, and there’ s a case to be made for this practice. One never knows when a connection, even a distant, remote connection, is likely to prove beneficial to either party. You might know each other well know, but sometimes a friendly handshake on social media leads to real-life handshakes later, or the connection on LinkedIn reveals two people with many connections in common, a great indicator of professional or personal compatibility. If the requestor seems to be adding you to his or her collection, and you are only a piece of a statistic for a professional poseur, the decision is (usually) easy; however, it might be worth taking a look at the person’s profile first.

The accept-all-requests approach tells people you’re open and willing to get to know anyone who’s interested. If you find the connection lacking, you can always disconnect later. Meanwhile, you’re accepting the online version of every business card being handed you at the real-life conference. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it often leads to robust, diverse, and enormous networks.

On the other hand, a connection to you should be a valuable thing. You’re working on being a contributor, someone whose acquaintance and friendship means something. Giving that connection out in name but not in practice cheapens your network’s credibility. This is not to say that others should consider your acquaintance something to be earned (or worse, worthy of), but it should represent some concept of truth. If you’ve ever done some due diligence in identifying some of these unsolicited connection requests, you may have asked people you know in common to tell you a little about them, and chances are solid that the responses sounded like, “I don’t really know that person.” The connection between the requestor and your friend is thus meaningless, and you don’t want that in your network.

Somewhere between accept and deny are a few questions that can sway your decision on which button to press. If a profile doesn’t look especially meaningful to you, is there something about the person that says he or she is someone you would like to know? Click accept, but don’t leave it there. Make an effort to get to know the person, perhaps on other, more conducive social media sites, such as Twitter. If things don’t work out, however you define that, you can quietly disconnect later. If an unsolicited requestor is connected to special, meaningful hubs in your network, click accept, because chances are the requestor sees in you a potential for a relationship such as you both have with those common connections. Thank goodness those friends in your network are discerning about their connections—they serve as an example for us all.


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Professional Networking: To Accept or Not To Accept? - Executive Leadership Articles

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