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Should I accept every invitation to connect on LinkedIn, or is it better to be selective?

Answers

Robert Gerughty
Title: Owner/Senior Consultant
Company: Interim Finance Services
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner/Senior Consultant, Interim Finance Services) |

LinkedIn is a great business networking tool, but I prefer to be somewhat more selective than to accept every invitation that I receive on LinkedIn. In general, I like to have met the person, but that's not always possible. If I haven't met the person, I look at their profile to see if we have something in common that will support a future networking relationship.

Topic Expert
Mark Richards
Title: VP of Finance & Operations
Company: RBA Consulting
(VP of Finance & Operations, RBA Consulting) |

Robert,

We are alike, in that I treat my LinkedIn much like my personal network, I only make referrals, connections, etc. with those I've met in person, via e-mail or have existing association worth expanding.

If I do not know the person I have two steps.

First, if they do not identify the reason for us to connect, then I simply decline the invite. Generally, these are people just looking to expand their connections, not their ability to truly connect. Honestly, if they cannot take 45 seconds to offer a reason, then it's a good indicator of networking value. Also, why expose all of my connections to someone who I don't know.

Second, if the pass the 1st step, I will look at their profile to see if there any way I can offer them assistance and if there is a reason to network. st and there seems to be a reason to network - then I'll send them an e-mail to inquire about what they are seeking, etc.

My philosophy is that the number of connections is interesting, when you and your connection can assist one another, that's when they become relevant - I think your approach is good, simply turn down the ones where you cannot make them a relevant connection.

Lastly, I do a semi-annual review of my connections to see if there has been any interaction. If not, then staying connected does not do either of us any good. I learned this lesson after someone asked to be introduced to one of my connections and I realized I had not developed a relationship with the person being sought - so they were only a connection in name, in reality.

Regards,

Mark

Topic Expert
Barrett Peterson
Title: Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis
Company: TTX
(Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis, TTX) |

Strategies vary. Your "core" connections should be people you have at least met and share some common interests. You may accept uninvited request from some well connected persons to expand your "reach" on LinkedIn. You will want ot much more wary of invitations from those with few or no connections, particularly from another country which will not likely benefit either of you, or may be a "blind",

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

I actually just wrote a blog post on this a few weeks ago. Here's the link and the full post:

CFOs, Linked In, and Networking
http://www.cfo-coach.com/?p=2383

Last week’s blog post focused on offline networking tips. This week, after reading CFO Search expert Samuel Dergel’s two blog posts on Linked In, I decided to chime in with my thoughts on building those online networks.

Samuel’s Linked In policy is a great template for creating your own policy. And like him, I recommend you have a policy or at least some minimal guidelines in place.

There are two schools of thoughts in building Linked In networks. One is “quantity.” The other is “quality.”

Quantity

This philosophy or mindset comes from the perspective that you don’t know who might be in a position to help you, so connect with everyone. It’s one that is often embraced by recruiters and sales people. Other than consulting or CFO contractors, I don’t know many CFOs who embrace the quality viewpoint.

There is nothing wrong with this perspective, but for CFOs (and other executives) it can have a downside. That is, it can negatively impact your brand. For someone who is looking at you beyond just your profile, who comprises your network might impact that first impression.

If you’ve been embracing the “quantity” strategy up to this point, it might be a good idea to take a step back and ask yourself, “who is in my network, and should they be?” And yes, there is a delete button for those that shouldn’t be.

Quality

One of my clients, a very savvy networker, has a policy that he never accepts a connection unless and until he has had a phone call and/or a face-to-face meeting with the person. As a savvy networker, he believes that the benefit of a strong network is relationship, not rolodex. Therefore, quality, not quantity.

His philosophy is reminiscent of the concepts of the great Harvey McKay in his book, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty” ...

“You’ve got to dig thoughtfully, creatively, and with a little class. That’s how the network gets bigger and the well gets deeper. Then there’s the maintenance. Nothing a man or woman ever built stayed in perfect shape without a lot of TLC. Ditto your network. Staying in touch with contact is as important as getting them in the first place.”

There is no wrong Linked In connection philosophy ... only the one that is right for you.

If you are a finance executive or CFO and would like to connect with me, please send me an invitation to connect (customized invitations work really well with me). If you’re a CFO and would like to join the CFO-only careers group, please send your request to join and I’ll see you in the group!

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