LinkedIn is a powerful online tool for professionals. More and more, businesses and recruiters look at LinkedIn profiles to help make decisions during the hiring process. What they see, your connections, recommendations, even your profile picture, can either help land you the job you’ve dreamt about or destroy your chances.
There are several rules of thumb for LinkedIn that can help you with questions about how to choose a profile picture, build your profile, and set up recommendations, but as with any social networking site, there are grey areas. One of these is the question of which connection requests you should accept.
The first argument says that yes, you should accept all LinkedIn connection requests that you receive, even if you don’t know the person face-to-face. Having more connections will give you a larger number of people who can recommend you or refer you to a position, but with that larger network comes a need for more caution when utilizing the tools that LinkedIn provides.
The opposing argument says no, you should only accept connections from people you know and trust in a professional environment. This way, there is little chance that you could recommend someone and later come to regret it when that person ruins your credibility.
No matter what your job is, whether it is with an accounting firm or in the construction industry, at some point in your life you will probably need to use LinkedIn. Whether it is your tool to search for a job, recruit new employees for your firm or simply build your resume, connections are everything.
Making your network larger by accepting all requests allows you to branch out and get some key benefits.
There are a couple of reasons for accepting only the connections with people you know outside of the Internet. Obviously, there are common sense reasons for declining to make personal connections with people you know only through the internet. Everyone has had Internet safety rules drummed into their heads for years, telling us that we should only connect, cautiously, with people we know outside of LinkedIn. Much of the time it will come down to what you are comfortable with.
Also, LinkedIn users need to be careful not to give their word away too easily. You don’t want to recommend someone on LinkedIn for a skill or refer them for a job unless you are absolutely sure about them. If you know someone personally and have worked with them in a professional setting for several years, then you can feel comfortable recommending them for Microsoft Office, Twitter or whatever the skill may be.
If, however, you only know someone by the profile picture that they’ve posted on their profile, you should think twice before you recommend them. If they disappoint later down the road, you could lose credibility for recommending them.
There is a middle ground that should be considered. If you work for a large company, it is possible that you won’t know everyone by name. If that is the case, you may want to accept connection requests from people you’ve never met within the same company that you work for as a way to expand your network.
Similarly, you may also want to consider accepting requests from people you’ve never met but only within your industry or from certain companies that you choose.
You will ultimately have to choose for yourself how you handle your LinkedIn connection requests. Choosing to accept all connection requests or only those from people you know will have to be your decision based on what your professional goals are and what you are comfortable with doing online.
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