Who Should You Accept as a Connection on LinkedIn?

linkedin networking Mar 14, 2019

Here is a question recently received from a participant in the coaching program: LinkedIn, who should you accept as a connection and who might you not want to connect with?

Here's my response:

LinkedIn is unlike most other social media platforms that it is intended to be a place for professionals to connect and share work-related information. The typical things one might post on Facebook like the massive plate of nachos you carefully crafted at 2 am, the cute pics of your dog, and random drama are not acceptable in this space.

That said, there are still people who don’t get that and those are the people you certainly don’t want to be connected with, as their likes and personal interest can end up in your news feed.

When you’re in job search mode, you should be using LinkedIn with purpose. Taking advantage of their job search tools and networking opportunities. 

Who you connect with is ultimately your call. Just know that who you connect with has a direct effect on what’s in your news feed. When you’re looking for a job, it’s my opinion that you want to have quality articles and events showing there.

You want to create a policy for yourself that covers who you will accept or not accept and why.

Here are some typical personal LinkedIn connection

  • Some people will accept all requests. In my mind, this is the same as accepting zero requests. This person is not maximizing the potential of LinkedIn and just collecting connections.
  • Some people will only connect with people after they’ve met them in person. I feel this to be a bit snobby and really only hurting yourself. What if someone wants to connect with a great opportunity? It happens.
  • You might consider only connecting with people who take the time to submit a connection note. Keep in mind that on a phone, unless you purposefully choose to add a note it will send without one. Also, there is a growing number of people marketing through LinkedIn and they always include a note. 

The best thing you can do is create your own policy based on your responses to the following criteria:

  • Have we met before?
  • Did they include a note?
  • Is their profile complete?
  • Do we have any mutual connections?
  • Do we have any common interests?
  • How many existing connections do they have already?

Do you have to feel any sort of guilt for not accepting a connection request? The answer is no. If the person requesting doesn’t meet your requirements you have zero obligation to accept the request.

For example, here is my policy and the why behind it (always go to your why).

When I get a connection request, here’s my process.

  1. Check the profile photo. If they do not show their profile picture (even if I have met them before) I do not accept them. Why? Because if someone looks at my list of connections, if I have a ton of people without headshots, then I’m the one who looks like a fraud.
  2. Did they include a message? If it’s someone marketing their services to coaches, I take a hard look at their messaging. I am fairly certain I am not interested in their services, but maybe they’ll share some free content. If there isn’t a message then I go to their profile.
  3. Does the profile look complete? Can I tell what they do? Do we work in the same circles? Do we have mutual connections? Usually, I can tell from here if I am going to accept the request. If not then I go to the next step.
  4. How many connection requests do they have? There are two extremes I avoid here, if they have only a few then I’m likely a random person they hit connect with. If they have thousands and we don’t have any mutual connections then something is off, they could just be a connection collector.
  5. I am usually trying to give people the benefit of the doubt and I like to keep doors open, so if I get this far, then I will investigate their activity. What articles have they liked or commented on. If there isn’t any activity or it’s weird activity. 

A word of caution to females. Occasionally, I get to #5 and I can see that they only are connected with beautiful ladies, or the articles they liked are all by good looking women. BEWARE! You don’t have to say anything (I’ve seen others play out that drama) just decline the request and move on. Of course, if you see something worth reporting you should.  

When I started my response to this question, I thought it was going to be quick but there is really a lot that can be said about this topic. You can find out a lot more about how to get the most out of LinkedIn by watching the free webinar “How to Network Without Feeling Stalkery


You might also like the free networking strategy worksheet.


This article has been written on Day 14 of a March Madness Content Challenge.  

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The Environmental Career Coach provides group and personal coaching for students, recent grads, and career changers to help them get from where they currently are and onto paths to successful environmental careers. 


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