What is your LinkedIn Connection Policy?

April 11th, 2013 | by Jason Alba |

I have a simple connection policy.  Because I have such a public presence (with my articles, speaking, books, JibberJobber, etc.) I pretty much accept everyone who invites me to connect.

I know LinkedIn says to only accept invitations from people you know and trust, but I think that concept is fundamentally wrong.  That’s like saying “go to a networking event and only talk to people you know and trust,” or “only talk to people you get an introduction to.” The network event would be very quiet, I think.

For me, LinkedIn, like a networking event, is a place to meet people and give me a chance to figure out if I can know and trust them.  It is the beginning.  An invitation is like walking up to someone and saying “Hi, I’m Jason, tell me about yourself.”  It is the beginning.

I was surprised to get an email from someone who said a friend of his:

“… was bummed when he tried to connect with you and you denied him. I guess his invite wasn’t personal enough. This illustrated why it’s important to put more effort into inviting someone to your network. “

Actually, I don’t care if you send me a canned invite. I think it is bad form, and you have a lot to learn about how to invite, but heck, that’s what my book is for, right?  I figure if you are still learning I’m not going to freak out because you did one little etiquette thing not-right.

My response was:

“I actually accept all invitations to connect (my admin does that) with very few exceptions. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with the invitation – canned is fine.
The ones I don’t accept are from Profiles that are not people – just yesterday there was one from something like “Resume Girl” – there was absolutely no indication of a real person… the picture was a logo, the text was generic (there wasn’t much text, really), there weren’t many other connections… it looked like a spam account.
My admin (who generally accepts all invites on a weekly basis) looks for non-persons and “ignores” those, but aside from that we accept pretty much all other invites.  I have no idea why this person’s request was denied, unless it was that (which I doubt, since they went to your class on how to use LinkedIn).”
What is your connection policy?  Do you think you should only invite, or accept invitations from, people you know and trust?
  1. 7 Responses to “What is your LinkedIn Connection Policy?”

  2. By Charlie Indelicato on Apr 11, 2013 | Reply

    I have been with LinkedIn for about 7 years now, and I largely stick with the standard set by LinkedIn.

    I recognize your analogy about a networking event, but at least at an event there’s some common ground (i.e. trade), where accepting link requests from random people (excluding spammers) can be from anyone at all. As I am not an author, etc., having so many contacts becomes unwieldy.

    That being said, I will review every invite and decide whether to accept or not, and nearly always I will write back to the person, asking how we may know each other.

  3. By Debbie Melnikoff on Apr 11, 2013 | Reply

    Jason, everyone will have a different style regarding who they connect with. Recruiters, LION’s and sales people and ‘you’ will be open networkers.

    The rest of us my be more restrictive about who we decide to connect with and that is perfectly ok.

    As far as using the canned invite, I have to disagree with you. If I get one of those, (and I do quite frequently) I suspect the person is not familiar with LinkedIn etiquette, is spamming me or worse yet is trying to mine my contacts. I feel an obligation to protect the people I am connected to.

    Personalizing the invitation to connect is absolutely a must. You should research the individual and connect on some common ground ( as one of the other posts suggested).

    WHen I do get the canned invite, I reply (not accept) and simply ask ‘how we know each other’. I have received a wide variety of responses. I’ll decide at that point if I want to connect or not. If I don’t, I will message the person back and explain that I am not an open networker.

    Thanks for bringing this up. Good timing as I just blogged about it so I am all ears. I have included a link to the blog. http://www.examiner.com/article/the-right-way-to-connect-on-linkedin

  4. By Samantha Glazer on Apr 11, 2013 | Reply

    I accept invites from the majority of people, however I rarely invite someone to connect unless I have spoken to them. I think Linked In is a fantastic, professional tool and would not want to say that I know someone or have done business with them if clearly I haven’t – in mails are great for first point of contact.
    As a recruiter I would be stupid not to accept invites from possible clients or candidates.

  5. By Charlie Indelicato on Apr 11, 2013 | Reply

    Debbie said “Personalizing the invitation to connect is absolutely a must. You should research the individual and connect on some common ground ( as one of the other posts suggested)”

    I agree with you, but wish to point out that I’ve chastised my friends who sent me invites with the same reasoning, only to find out they used the LI app for iPhone. So as a corollary: avoid using LI’s iPhone app to send invites.

  6. By Jason Alba on Apr 11, 2013 | Reply

    Good point Charlie. I have found another place in the web interface where it just sends the invitation to connect without allowing you to customize the invite. I can’t remember where it was, but it was a lesson to me in why some people send the canned… clicking the invite button can send it before you have a chance to edit the message.

  7. By Jessica Benzing Smith on Apr 12, 2013 | Reply

    I agree. I accept invitations from most “real” people. A personal note is a nice touch. If I want to connect with someone I don’t know I mention how I heard about them or what we have in common in my invite. Thanks for sharing Jason.

  8. By Liz duToit on Apr 24, 2013 | Reply


    I think of connecting with someone as giving them access to your professional address book. You wouldn’t walk up to random people at a networking event and hand out copies of your contacts – at least I’ve never seen anyone do that. If people want to have access to the contacts I’ve worked hard to make, the least they can do is not only personalize the invitation, but also agree to meet me for coffee (if local) or speak on the phone. If they don’t have the time for either, then what value is connecting with them?

    I’ve been replying to invites from people I don’t know with “I like to know my connections so we know how to best help each other. I’d be happy to connect after we meet or speak on the phone.” Surprisingly, a very small percentage ever write back.


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