Contractors' Questions: Should I accept LinkedIn invitations from people I don’t know?
Contractor’s Question: Should I accept random LinkedIn invitations from people I don’t know?
I’m late to the LinkedIn party so am extra keen to have ‘connectors’ in my network. The people I don’t know who’ve sent me untailored invites have over 500+ connections, so it’d be great to join their big networks. But could it be a scam as I don’t know these people and haven’t worked with them, although I do have two connections in common with one of them?
Expert’s Answer: Your question is best answered by considering the different purposes of LinkedIn and the different products that LinkedIn offers. I’m potentially going to delve deeper into these tonight in a free webinar, exclusively for ContractorUK readers.
Firstly, LinkedIn is used by recruiters who pay a few thousand pounds a year for the ‘Recruiter Licence.’ This allows them to search and reach out to other LinkedIn users who may be appropriate for a job or contract they are recruiting for.
Secondly, LinkedIn is used by sales people for lead generation, and they would usually buy the ‘Sales Navigator’ licence. This allows them to search for prospects and reach out to them.
Thirdly, business owners use LinkedIn’s ‘Premium Licence’ to expand their business network and ultimately grow their business.
And then there’s the standard free account which gives you a presence on LinkedIn and the ability to connect and network with people.
The point is -- LinkedIn is for reaching out to people and expanding your network. If we only ever spoke to people we already know, then we wouldn’t get very far!
Many people don’t even realise that Sales Navigator exists -- for £55 per month, any business can use LinkedIn to sell to other people. That’s right, to reach out to people they don’t know and sell to them! LinkedIn built Sales Navigator solely so businesses can do this.
Now we’ve established that it’s OK to reach out to people that you don’t know personally, we need to discuss etiquette.
The key is to approach people in a way that doesn’t make you seem like some strange internet stalker. If you personalise your connection request message and explain why you want to connect with the individual, then there’s a much greater chance that they will accept your request.
You don’t have to know them but if you point out some common ground, that ‘greases the wheels’ and it feels like a warmer approach; it might be that you went to the same school, or maybe you share some mutual connection, or perhaps you operate in the same industry -- these are all valid reasons for connecting.
The connection requests mentioned in your question didn’t follow these rules and were therefore subject to suspicion.
My final advice to you would be to read the Celestine Prophecy (by James Redfield), and relate the content to LinkedIn and networking. The book is about an order of monks that believe in fate. They suggest that people come into our lives for a reason, but unless we engage with these people, the benefits that might come from the relationship will never materialise. It’s quite philosophical but there are many people whose entry into my life could have been curtailed before it started and my life would be worse off as a result. Help, friendship, resources and opportunities sometimes come from strange places. In my opinion and experience, it’s better to connect with someone and give these opportunities a chance to materialise. What’s the worst that could happen?!
The expert was Matt Craven, founder and managing director of The CV & Interview Advisors.