One of my goals for this quarter is to make better use of LinkedIn; I feel like it’s an underutilized tool for freelancers, and I want to explore its usefulness for my own purposes and for some students who’ve asked me about it. But here’s a fundamental question about your LinkedIn presence: how do you decide whose connection requests to accept or ignore?
Back in the day (let’s say before 2014 or so), my rule for LinkedIn connection requests was fairly rigid and fairly straightforward: if I don’t know you, and you don’t write a personal message saying how you know me, I don’t accept your request. My feeling was that there was little value in being connected to complete strangers on LinkedIn. Then, things changed in a few ways. Most problematically, LinkedIn now makes it harder to send a personal message (in place of the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”), even if you want to. For example if you simply click on a connection that LinkedIn suggests, your connection request is automatically sent; you have to first click through to the person’s profile if you want to send a personal message along with your request.
As a result, I’ve relaxed my strategy over the years. I now accept most requests from people who already have a number of shared connections with me, and who work in the T&I industry in some capacity. On the positive side, I actually enjoy the status updates feature of the LinkedIn home page (where you can see what your connections have recently posted), and the updates are a lot more interesting when you have a lot of connections. The downside is that I’ve now amassed over 1,500 LinkedIn connections, many (or even most) of them to people who I know nothing about, except that they seem to be translators or interpreters and sent me a connection request. This gets problematic when I get an introduction request from someone else (“Can you refer me to this person?”), or a request for information about one of my connections (“What’s this person like to work with?”).
So, I feel like I’m in a bit of LinkedIn limbo: I don’t see the appeal of the LION (LinkedIn open networker) strategy, but I also feel that the days of restricting one’s LinkedIn network only to people with whom one has a personal connection are probably over. Any other thoughts on the pluses and minuses of this?