Should I Accept Every Request to Connect on LinkedIn?

A current graduate student just told me that he and his friends have a question that keeps emerging. Here’s the scenario he presented – to which you might relate:

I receive a lot of random requests to connect on LinkedIn. I know that it actually recommends people to you who are in your potential sphere of influence and a lot of people quickly click on those to get linked with people they might know, but who could be valuable. As a result, I’m not sure if I should accept all of them or be more selective. What’s your advice?

Well, I’m not sure if I have advice, but I can tell you my process:

1. Do I know this person? If yes, accept request.

  • Note: If it’s someone that I know to be someone I might not want to associate for whatever reason (and this is rare), then I would not accept the request.

2. Is someone in my sphere that I trust linked to this person? If yes, accept request.

  • Note: I’ll review their profile first and maybe even perform a Google search on them, but generally I’ll accept these requests without getting more information from my trusted source.

3. Is this person in the public sector? If yes, accept request.

  • Note: Since I’m generally in the business of helping people in government to do their jobs better, I will pretty much accept any request from someone that works in the public sector, especially in federal, state or local government, but also non-profit associations, academics and private sector who are known contractors. If you are in another sector, you can obviously apply this filter based on the field that’s important to you.

4. Is someone that I do not know at all and they aren’t in my trusted network? If yes, pause.

  • Note: I’ll do a little research on these folks, but I’d say that 9 times out of 10, I will accept their request based on solid identifying information. If I can’t seem to find any more information about someone through a quick search, I’ll usually just ignore the request.

I’m pretty confident this approach is quite common, but I’d be curious to learn if there are people who are more cautious in accepting requests – especially if you are in the public sector and feel as if you ought to be a little more guarded.

Do you accept most LinkedIn requests or are you more selective?

What’s your filtering process?

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Bryce Bender

Thanks for this Andy! I’ve been wondering what to do with all of my acquaintances from previous studies that I don’t necessarily know in a “professional” setting. I’ll take a good look at the points you made above and see what I can do about my increasing LinkedIn queue.

Michael Jacobson

My threshold is typically that I have “met” the person before. In this case, it may have been through an event or even via a phone conversation. I don’t accept those with whom I have no prior personal knowledge. People, including all of us publicly minded pure altruists in the public sector, have “reputations” and yours can be impacted by connection to these relatively unkknown folks.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Thanks for the response, Michael. Would this interaction count? Can I request a link with you at this point? 🙂

David B. Grinberg

Awesome advice, Andy, I agree.

My personal strategy is to maximize my quantity of contacts with quality of contacts. So far, 1,000+ direct contacts in my major fields of interest, gov, politics, journalism/media, PR, communications, etc. If you’re not sure whether to accept an invite then send the person a response asking how they know you, and/or why you should connect with them. If in doubt, leave them out (ignore) or archive it for future consideration.

Also, if you are seeking to secure contacts do not send a generic request. Rather, personalize it and point out why the person should want to connect with you. This makes a big difference.


Erik G Eitel

Great points and solid advice. I think LinkedIn provides an avenue for people who haven’t met before to connect and get to know one another. With the exception of sketchy or spammy people, I will tend to accept anyone’s invite. It does stand out though when someone sends me a custom message when connecting. 🙂

Dick Davies

LinkedIn is my primary people search engine. Often I can find someone I need to know through a friend of a friend. So unless someone’s LinkedIn representation is squirrelly or I don’t want to have them know about me, I accept.

Donna Kridelbaugh

I prefer to take a selective approach to networking and only accept requests from people with whom I have had some type of interaction (e.g., meeting in person, interacting on a discussion board, exchanging comments on my blog, etc.) In my opinion, I find it meaningless to collect a bunch of random names; rather, I like to build a personal connection to each contact to remember why I know them. I routinely go through my LinkedIn contact list to refresh my memory on how I know each person and why I am connected to them. This way, I can use my network to its full potential.