LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social media channels. Tailored towards professionals connecting, sharing and networking online, it should be a key element of establishing and maintaining your personal brand. But does that mean you should be connecting with everyone who sends you a request?

When you accept a connection online, you are confirming with your network that you know this person and are willing to be associated with this person. Each connection builds your reputation as well as the reputation of your online network. Simply by association, the reputation of your connections is reflected within your network. For that reason, I adopt a simple strategy when considering each connection request;

A request from someone I know. If I personally know the person requesting to connect either via education, family connection, work colleague (former or current), fellow business owner, or friend, I will generally accept the connection request without too much thought. I will however view their profile to improve my understanding of their career path. Depending on your relationship with this person, you may learn more about their work history, and the direction they are heading and more.

Connection request from someone I don’t personally know. I answer this question by asking myself do I want to know him/her. If the answer is yes, I will accept the connection request, but I continue the communication to grow the relationship with them. If possible, via a face to face meeting.

Connection request from someone I’m not familiar with. When I receive a connection request from someone I’m not familiar with, and they have sent LinkedIn’s standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”, I respond to their request by mentioning that I don’t think we’ve met and enquiring if I can help them? From this response, one of two outcomes usually occur; 1. The professional requesting to connect explains why they wish to connect, perhaps they noticed a post you shared etc. or 2. You hear nothing further from this LinkedIn user. The latter highlights to me that this person was simply looking to grow their connection numbers.

Related: Download our LinkedIn Audit Checklist

LinkedIn is not a numbers game, or a popularity contest, instead it is a professional way to grow your network online and show your professional reputation.

My final piece of advice, personalise your connection request to encourage your potential network member to join your network. Feel free to share your LinkedIn advice or connection strategy below.

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By Sam Spence – Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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