Your phone ‘dings’. There’s a push notification. Someone has sent you an invitation request on LinkedIn. Do you accept it? Everyone has a different approach to LinkedIn. Some choose to accept every invitation request that lands in their inbox, while others are pickier about it. LinkedIn is the secret weapon in your arsenal when developing your career or building your profile within the industry. We’re taking an in-depth look at the platform and helping you answer the dilemma of “Which LinkedIn invitations should I accept?”.
What is LinkedIn?
If you’re a professional looking to expand your network and raise your profile, you need to be on LinkedIn. It’s home to 750 million registered users from over 200 countries and territories across the world. The platform brings together professionals, companies, and recruiters to network and connect.
LinkedIn launched online in May 2003 and has changed the way we network. Thanks to LinkedIn and other social media platforms, business cards have virtually become a thing of the past. With LinkedIn, you have a virtual resume that incorporates more about you and your skills and talents that you wouldn’t hit on a paper resume.
When you sign up to LinkedIn you create a profile that highlights your education, employment history, certifications, and skills. Businesses can create a similar profile while allowing employees to directly tag the profile as their employer.
Users can leave recommendations and references on each other’s profiles. You can ask a former colleague to leave you a virtual reference that will catch the attention of recruiters and potential employers. The most significant aspect of LinkedIn is its InMail function, allowing you to direct message your connections on the platform.
Related: How to Add a Resume to LinkedIn
Who Should I Invite on LinkedIn?
Before we tackle the question of “Which LinkedIn invitations should I accept?”, it’s worth considering which invitations you should be sending out.
You want to leverage LinkedIn as a tool to help you achieve both your short and long-term business goals. Whether you’re looking to find a mentor or raise the profile of your small business, there should be a strategy between the people you choose to send connections to on LinkedIn.
The connections that you make on the platform as just as important as the real-world relationships that you develop within your industry. While you can invite anyone to become a ‘connection’ on LinkedIn, you want to focus primarily on your niche or areas of interest.
Potential connections are more likely to accept your invitation if you have several mutual connections. This point is particularly true if you’re looking to connect with someone that you don’t know personally.
The beauty of LinkedIn’s invitation and connections feature is that you can gain a communication channel with just about anyone within a few clicks. You can target your invitations by searching for people from their educational institutions or companies, along with searching through mutual connections.
You want to be sending invitations to people you know and others that you want to connect with.
Which LinkedIn Invitations Should I Accept?
Once you start building your profile on LinkedIn, you can expect to see your notifications buzzing throughout the day as invitations arrive. It’s personal preference as to whether you want to accept every invitation that comes your way or if you want to undertake a strategy for who you connect with on LinkedIn. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself opening the app and scrolling through a dozen or more notifications.
We’re sharing four approaches to help you decide what to do when you find yourself asking, “Which LinkedIn invitation should I accept?”.
Connect with everyone
If you’re just starting on LinkedIn, you’ll probably feel like you have to accept every single invitation that lasts in your notifications. Whether it’s a former colleague, someone you went to school with, or a peer in your industry, you’ll feel the need to hit ‘accept’ on their invitation.
When you spent a little time around LinkedIn, you’ll see that most users tend to have several hundred connections. Once you hit over 500, your profile displays a ’500+ connections’ subtitle instead of stating your exact number of connections.
If you’re looking to build up your numbers and give your profile a more eye-catching appearance, you want to be accepting every invitation that comes your way. This strategy can also help boost your profile views while increasing your chances of having mutual connections with someone you want to connect with.
The one thing to consider is that accepting everyone can lower the quality of your network. It depends on your goals and what you want to achieve on LinkedIn.
Spring clean your connections
Have you ever gone on an unfollowing spree on Twitter? Do you unfriend people on Facebook when you don’t want to see their posts? You can do the same thing on LinkedIn. You might decide to accept someone’s invitation request to see if they can add value to your network and if they’re a valuable connection for you to have.
Doing a spring clean and removing people from your connections allows you to ensure your network is relevant and engaged. This process is time-consuming and will involve going through each profile, but it prevents the awkwardness of avoiding someone’s invitation.
Meet a requirement
With this strategy, every potential LinkedIn connection has to tick a specific box. You’ll draw up a list of reasons why you would accept someone’s request. It might be that they attended the same university as you, work for a specific company, or hold another position within your industry.
Keeping a list of requirements allows you to focus your network on high-quality connections that will add value to your feed. We’ve all accepted a request from someone trying to sell an e-book or service, along with people sliding into your messages to talk about cryptocurrency.
Having requirements is like keeping a security guard in front of your LinkedIn profile. Just like a security guard asking for ID before letting someone into a nightclub, this list of questions makes you stop and check out the profile before letting them into your space.
If you’re trying to use this method, you want to ensure you’re clicking ‘accept’ on all the relevant invitations. It can help to be proactive and send our results to people who fall into these categories to boost the likelihood of a user with a similar background reaching out to you.
You want to avoid being too strict with your requirements. You never know what someone can bring to the table and offer you. Not everyone fully completes their LinkedIn profile, so you might end up hitting ‘decline’ on someone who would be a valuable contact or even a recruiter looking to head-hunt for a position. Allow for exceptions within your requirements list and be flexible to change this throughout your time on the platform.
The VIP approach
You can think of your LinkedIn profile as a VIP club that you need to be on the list to get into. With this method, you’re aiming to curate an exclusive list of connections. You’ll be clicking ‘accept’ on people you know in real life or that you’re planning on meeting with soon. You can make an exception for those who have a large number of mutual connections, as this shows that you’re active in similar circles within your industry.
The Harvard Business Review recommends using the ‘favor test’ with this approach. The idea is that you only accept invitations from people that you would ask to do a favor for you or who you would do a favor for.
With this strategy, your goal is to create a small and close-knit network that allows you to create a deeper connection. When was the last time you got to the end of your Facebook or Instagram feed? On other platforms, we all follow so many people that we miss posts and updates. With LinkedIn, these posts could be potential job openings or opportunities that you don’t want to miss.
The one thing to consider before trying this approach is that it goes against the spirit of LinkedIn. The purpose is to open your horizons and allow you to connect with new people – from interns right through to CEOs. If you’re rejecting most of your LinkedIn requests, then you might be missing out on an opportunity to meet new people and experiment with new ideas within your industry.
The easiest way to decide which LinkedIn invitations to accept is to go back to basics and figure out why you’re on LinkedIn. Are you a recruiter who wants to find potential talent? Connect with everyone you can. Are you a CEO who has a separate profile to their business but want to connect with others in your industry? You can take access potential connections on a case-by-case basis.
LinkedIn is your online resume. You want to get it in front of the right eyes, whether that’s keeping your profile to 100 high-quality connections or linking up with 500+ people. The key to being successful on LinkedIn is to tailor your strategy on the platform to meet your specific goals.