Which LinkedIn Connections Should I Accept?

LinkedInI have a puritanical LinkedIn philosophy: I don't accept an invitation to connect unless I know the person, preferably having met in person. At the other extreme are the "open networkers," who connect with anyone. Somewhere in the middle is Michael O'Donnell, managing director at Thesis Ventures, who offers good advice for people to reject some LinkedIn connections. Let's consider these approaches.

I'm an introvert. I value fewer and deeper relationships. The only reason I have more than 500 connections on LinkedIn is that most are students, a naturally revolving bunch of contacts. Also, I've worked in several organizations as an employee and as an external consultant-I'm old. 

If I connected with anyone, I would fear embarrassment when asked to make an introduction. This would upset my introvert sensibilities, forcing me to admit that I don't really have the relationships I claim.

Open networkers (or LIONs, LinkedIn Open Networkers) accept all invitations and often promote their willingness. For people such as recruiters, this strategy may work well to expand potential contacts. However, LinkedIn doesn't support this approach:

"'L.I.O.N.' is a designation used by several user-created groups and individual LinkedIn members to indicate a high level of interconnectivity to other LinkedIn members. This term is not endorsed by LinkedIn. As a reminder, only connect to people you know and trust and only join groups you want your name associated with."

Former LION Karalyn Brown says she regrets adopting this strategy three years ago. Although she has thousands of people in her network, she sees downsides: she's "fair game" for email spam, she finds it difficult to "to find people that I really care about and want to form deeper relationships with," and she's concerned that she looks "indiscriminate."

Being more discriminate is exactly what Michael O'Donnell suggests. Although he accepts connections from people he doesn't know, he'll reject requests for these reasons:

1. No picture or picture is an icon or company logo.

2. Incomplete or sparse profile.

3. Few connections and no recommendations.

4. Your invitation reads, "I'd like to add you to my professional network on Linkedin."

5. You lied about how you know me.

6. Your connection invitation was preceded by an InMail which was essentially a sales pitch for your company or products/services.

7. Your profile title says you are a "visionary" or you have 10,000+ connections...

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your philosophy for connecting with people on LinkedIn?
  • How does this strategy differ for other sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?
  • How have you used LinkedIn for networking?