With over 360 million professionals using the LinkedIn platform, as a job seeker, you can only imagine the amount of opportunities waiting to be discovered by you. Because LinkedIn is so popular with professionals, it is important that you be active and your profile reflects who you are. This brings us to who you keep in your "circle."
As a teenage girl, my mum always used to give me a lecture on the kind of friends I keep company with and she said it will mirror what I get up to. To a certain extent, the same goes for whom you are connected to on LinkedIn. This can echo the quality of your professional network you have and you want this to reflect nothing less, than positively on you.
What you want to do on LinkedIn is build a smart network. By smart, I mean make sure the person has a professional profile picture, is credible and legitimate. This has proven to be very good criteria for making sure your connections are high quality.
But on the other hand, if you limit who you connect with to only the people you know or who are in your industry of work, you could potentially miss out on the massive networking and business building opportunities that LinkedIn offers. So keep in mind that every time you connect with someone new, you gain exposure to their network.
Deciding who you connect to is a personal decision, but I believe you should build a powerful network that will assist you with your career, because you never know when you will need it in the future. Here are two guidelines on how and who you should connect with.
1. You don't know the requester
Meeting someone in person at a networking event and handing them your contact information is far more different than connecting with them on LinkedIn. You are entering into a mutual circle of professional trust. But, if you don't know the person who sends you a connection request and you have zero connections in common, it would probably be a good idea to just ignore their request.
Also, if you don't know the person and they send you a generic invite and not a customized request detailing the reason for wanting to connect with, I would think twice.
2. The requester looks like a spammer
I am sure most of us have gotten and still do get spammed and it is one of the most annoying things ever. If you receive a connection request from someone you don't know who is advertising products or services, it might not be a person at all. It could be an automated computer program designed to send spam. Or, it can turn out to be an actual sales person. Both are alike and deserve to be reported to LinkedIn as spam.
Again, if the person doesn't have a profile picture, don't accept that invitation. Another red flag is that the culprit might be from another country that you've never visited. No face = No connection, that simple!
How do you decide who to connect with on LinkedIn? What kind of discretion do you use when accepting invitations? Remember, if you're going to invest the time in utilizing a platform like LinkedIn, do it right! Because the more meaningful your connections, the better the chance that those people will vouch for you when you're looking to connect with potential employers in their network.
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