Why Should I Accept Your LinkedIn Connection? I don't know you, but how much does it matter?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You just sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Should I accept it?
If I knew you, that would be one thing. I get invitations from lots of people that I work with or have personally met or emailed so that's usually a no-brainer. I don't understand how anyone in business can't be using this professional social media service. I told my college-age kids (and their friends) when they first started looking for internships and summer jobs that the first thing they needed to do was setup a good LinkedIn profile. Everyone in business needs one. Every prospective employer looks at it.
What exactly is a good LinkedIn profile? It should be the same as your resume, because really, isn't LinkedIn just a database of resumes? It should have a short description of your accomplishments, but not too long because we all know you're a hard worker, passionate and committed, reliable -- so is everyone else. For God's sake, make sure your picture is professional and wasn't taken at a happy hour or Game 6 of the NBA playoffs. This is LinkedIn, not Facebook, and I want to see what you'll look like at work, not when you're sweaty and drunk. I'm so shallow I've actually turned down job applicants because I hated their photo on LinkedIn.
If I don't know who you are and you're from specific parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, the Middle East or Florida, I'm likely going to reject you. This is not a terrorism thing. I've just been conditioned by years of spam, spoof emails, viruses, ransomware and other hacking attacks that always seem to start with a kind invitation from those parts of the world. I don't know how all this stuff works, but if your profile looks suspicious I'm afraid that by accepting your invitation you'll do something bad to my account or to those that I'm connected.
That's not to say that I reject every invitation from people I don't know who reside in those areas. Some make it through my very comprehensive, thorough and meticulous approval process (which consists of a 30 second glance at their profile). To me, a legit LinkedIn profile from someone who lives in a far off or dangerous place (like New Jersey) that is completely filled out with jobs and schools and has connections with more than 500 people, including a few in my network and follows a few smart thought leaders that I admire, like Richard Branson. That's usually enough for me.
So back to you. Do I accept your invitation?
I don't know you. Unfortunately, your picture looks like it was taken at a Disney Kodak Photo Spot with an actual Kodak Instamatic camera. Unfortunately, you don't even have 200 connections even though you should because anyone in business for more than a year knows more than 200 people. Unfortunately, you have misspellings on your profile, which means you're an idiot. Your resume says you graduated "with honors" from an overpriced New England college, so not knowing the right use of "there" as opposed to "their" makes you look like...well...an idiot.
You're probably a competitor of mine so all you really want is to look at my connections and then steal them, you dirty SOB. Or maybe you're one of those super-annoying LinkedIn people -- "coaches" and "marketers" and "dreamers" -- who seem to have all day to spend inviting me to join your LinkedIn networking group or sending me unsolicited messages asking to "talk" or "explore ways we can do business together" which basically means you're out of a job or have no skills. Maybe you're a kid from college or a young professional just starting out and looking to build your profile. Perhaps you're just a nosy busybody who wants to mine my connections for marketing purposes. Or you're just looking for a job. Or you're someone who found me through someone else and you just want to connect. You have no idea why you want to connect but who the heck knows anyway. Maybe you're one of those people.
It doesn't matter. I'll accept your connection. Why? Why not? Isn't this what LinkedIn is all about? Aren't we all just points of light and energy that are cosmically interconnected to each other through the miracle of space and time, with LinkedIn nothing more than a vehicle for enabling those connections? Isn't there a Kevin Bacon joke that I already should have made?
The fact is that 99 percent of the people on LinkedIn are just like you and me -- always nervous, always looking for more work, always interested in meeting people who can further our careers and help us find new opportunities for our businesses. Most importantly, it's kind of humbling. You want to connect with little 'ol me? You think that being connected to me on LinkedIn would be helpful to you? That's kind of nice. You're a bit misguided and I'm sure you'll be disappointed once you get to know me, but thank you.
By the way, you can connect with me here on LinkedIn.