“Who is this person,” you wonder, “and why does she want to connect with me on Linkedin?” We’ve probably all asked ourselves this very question when faced with a Linkedin request from someone we don’t think we know. Social networks are for connecting with friends and, in the case of Linkedin, colleagues. Why do strangers sometimes reach out with requests to connect?
In this situation, most of us probably do one of two things: decline the request immediately or ignore it entirely. With our ever-growing and increasingly complicated social media networks, another connection is one thing we simply don’t need.
Or do we? The truth is that there are lots of good reasons why you might want to accept those Linkedin requests from people who are strangers. Need some convincing? Here are six things to consider.
You might actually know this person.
We meet a lot of people: through work, through friends, and through all sorts of improbable circumstances. Unfortunately, we forget some of these people! Plus, women often change their names when they get married, adding another layer of confusion. That request from a stranger might actually be from someone you know.
You’ll grow your network.
This is especially important if you’re job hunting. A bigger Linkedin network makes you appear more well-connected. (Remember, a recruiter will only see how many connections you have, not how or if you know the people with whom you’re connected.) Additionally, your exact number of connections is visible up to 500, after which your count will simply read “500+ connections.” If you’re not at that magic 500 number yet, it’s always a good idea to add more connections.
You never know what might come of it.
Perhaps the stranger reaching out to you is looking for a professional with your exact skill set. Maybe you’ve got these skills listed on your profile, or maybe you’ve been recommended from a mutual acquaintance. Whatever the reason, by accepting these requests, you open yourself up to the possibility of new professional opportunities.
You never know who knows whom.
Walt Disney was right: it really is a small world, and you never know which of your connections might know someone who can help you out professionally. Here’s an example: a few years back, I sent a Linkedin request to an acquaintance from college. He was someone I always respected but never knew well. He accepted my request, even though we were never close and he probably had forgotten about ever knowing me. I did not hear anything from him for a while, but when he started his latest entrepreneurial endeavor last year, he needed to connect with a medical professional in a very specific field. As it turned out, a friend of mine from high school, with whom I was also connected on Linkedin, was an expert in that very field. Because my college acquaintance accepted my Linkedin request a few years ago, he was able to reach out to me and ask for an introduction to my high school friend. I gladly obliged, and now they are working together on a promising project.
Geography is irrelevant.
Work doesn’t happen only in your immediate geographic region. With the increasing prevalence of remote jobs and freelance gigs happening over email, it pays to connect with Linkedin users in other parts of the world. If that stranger sending you a connection request isn’t in your town, this is a pretty compelling incentive to accept it.
Relax — it’s not permanent.
If you accept a Linkedin request from a stranger and later find that the connection isn’t beneficial to you, you can always remove it. And, if things get really dire, you can even block or report the person. The bottom line here is that accepting the connection request now does not mean that this person will permanently be in your network.
A Linkedin connection request from an unfamiliar user may cause you to raise an eyebrow. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — it’s always smart to be a little wary with your online presence. However, instantly dismissing such a request is arguably a mistake, as there is a lot of good that can come of it.
How do you handle mysterious Linkedin requests? Are you more likely to accept them now? Tell us about your experience in the comments!