With 900+ million members, there’s no denying LinkedIn’s supermassive reach.
One of the best and most used features of LinkedIn is its invite system. When someone sends you an invite to connect and you accept, you can see each other’s profiles and communicate through the platform’s integrated messaging system.
You would normally accept invites from someone you know, such as a former colleague or an old college friend. However, what should you do when a stranger sends a connection request?
While your first inclination might be to click “Ignore” and move on, we suggest being open to the connection. Today, we’re sharing seven reasons why it’smart to accept Linkedin connections, and what they could mean for your career.
1. Boost Your Own Search Ranking
Yes, accepting LinkedIn requests from strangers will help you expand your total number of connections, which ultimately widens your professional network. However, that’s a minor reason to give these messages a second look.
More importantly, growing your circle can increase the number of times your profile shows up in a LinkedIn search. That’s because search results only pull from a person’s first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree connections. When someone searches by a job title or skill set, they don’t have access to all 900M people on the platform.
When you add more people to your network, you increase the likelihood that you’ll appear as one of those connections. If you’re actively looking for a job and want to make sure people can find you, then this is a great tactic to try.
This can be especially helpful if you possess a set of skills in a niche industry, where it’s harder to get noticed or connect with the right hiring managers. By adding people to your LinkedIn circle, you’ll ultimately get more eyes on your resume, and you never know when those eyes might be an HR lead looking for someone just like you to join their team.
2. Get Referrals
You never know who’s going to reach out when you start using LinkedIn. When you accept them anyway, you improve your odds of connecting with someone who could refer you to a job you love. Even if they reach out about a position you’re not exactly interested in, take the time to check out their profile.
Do they work in an industry that interests you? Do they have connections that could be valuable to you down the road? Yes, accepting a request from a stranger opens up your profile to scrutiny, but you can also perform your own type of detective work.
If you find anything on their profile that piques your interest, consider going ahead with a request for an interview. If you can make a good impression and establish that relationship, then you could at least get your foot in that door. Then, if that same person knows about an opening in the future, they may be more likely to think about you and recommend your name.
3. Join LinkedIn Groups
In many ways, LinkedIn Groups are similar to Facebook Groups. They serve as a place where people with common interests and shared professional pursuits can gather together online to share insights and experiences, request guidance and support, and build connections.
These people may all work in the same industry, or they might simply share the same interests and hobbies. There are many different ones out there, and some are private while others are public.
You can find a group by name or keyword using the LinkedIn search bar. Sometimes, LinkedIn will even recommend groups for you to join based on the information in your profile.
While you can join some groups with just one click, others have a more intense review process. In those cases, a group administrator will review your profile to make sure your interests align with the group’s mission. Then, they’ll use that information to decide whether to accept or reject your request to join.
If you have a wider network of connections, then you’re more likely to know someone in the group already. Plus, it can help your profile appear more credible and legitimate to group leaders who might be on the fence about your request. Remember that LinkedIn leaves membership approvals completely up to each group, and they’re not required to accept every member who shows interest.
4. Gain Valuable Practice
Did a stranger reach out to you on LinkedIn and ask to speak to you about a prospective job offer?
Instead of scoffing at the message and brushing it off right away, think about replying, even if the position isn’t entirely in your wheelhouse. If nothing else, these types of conversations can offer great, real-world opportunities to sharpen your interview and communication skills.
As you prepare for the Zoom or phone call, you’ll have the chance to comb through your resume and pick out key areas you want to elaborate upon. You can prepare a list of your recent accomplishments, gather your references, and make sure you’ve dressed the part (even if it’s virtual).
Of course, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, including your own. Be up-front at the beginning and explain that you’re primarily interested in learning more about the company and making a professional connection. Not every conversation has to culminate in a signed contract, so be open to the possibility of simply expanding your prospects by making a great impression.
During this dialogue, you’ll get the chance to hear the types of questions that an interviewer might ask, so you’ll be better prepared when you get a job offer that you’re actually interested in pursuing. After the interview, reflect on the parts that you think went well, and where you could be sharper next time.
Of course, you don’t have to go this route if it’s not one you feel comfortable pursuing.
Our proven, step-by-step curriculum can help you ace any interview, with features that include video lessons, AI-based practice interview tools, and one-on-one coaching sessions. We’ll help you get ready, feel confident, and do your best when that pivotal meeting does come around.
5. Amplify Your Social Presence
According to one report, 95% of job recruiters use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates and actively recruit people who fit their job descriptions. They also consult Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to learn more about you and your followers.
If you’re minimizing your impact in this space, you could fly under the radar a little too much.
You don’t have to have a monolithic network full of connections you barely know or don’t know at all. However, by only accepting LinkedIn requests from people you’ve worked with or know personally, you run the risk of keeping your circle too small.
The simple fact is that the larger your LinkedIn presence, the more social you’ll look to future recruiters. You’ll appear to have established a solid network of colleagues, peers, and mentors who support your career. Especially if you’re just starting out on the career path of your choice, you might not have built those connections just yet.
Still, that doesn’t have to limit you. By accepting Linkedin connection requests from (almost) everyone who asks, you build credibility in this space. This could encourage a prospective recruiter to reach out and learn more about you. That’s an opportunity you might have missed if the only people in your LinkedIn network are your current boss and a handful of co-workers.
6. Get More Eyes on Your Content
LinkedIn is more than just a networking site. You can also use it to publish articles and updates that relate to your business. This is a great way to build thought leadership in your industry and it allows you to share your opinions and insights with people who may be interested in reading and responding to them.
It goes without saying that the more people in your network, the more eyes you’ll get on that content. In addition, if you consistently post relevant, valuable information, they’ll also be more likely to engage with the material through comments and likes, as well as share it with their connections. This helps grow your readership even more.
Content marketing is a great way to position yourself as an authority on a given topic. Not only does this help you appear more credible as a business leader, but it can also open new career opportunities. People who are perceived as experts in their field often earn more and field more job requests than those who aren’t.
You’ve spent valuable time creating your articles, so you don’t want them to sit idly on your laptop. In addition to sharing them on LinkedIn, be sure to post the link across all of your social media platforms. It’s an easy and cost-effective way to bolster your industry presence while honing your craft.
7. It’s Fully Reversible
What would happen if you decided to accept a LinkedIn request, only to find that you don’t want to pursue that connection after all? If that’s the case, you can simply remove that contact from your network.
When you do so, they no longer have access to your profile. If they want to reach out to you, they’ll have to send you an invite all over again, and you can simply choose to ignore it. As with any networking site, your connections are never permanent and you can choose to undo them at any time.
Knowing this makes it more reassuring to accept those invites that come your way, even when you aren’t familiar with the person on the other side of the screen.
LinkedIn Red Flags to Know
In general, it’s usually safe to accept LinkedIn connections, even from people you don’t know. However, there are some red flags to be aware of. If you notice any of these, it could mean you’re dealing with someone who’s less than legitimate:
- Suspicious or inappropriate profile pictures
- Questionable work history
- Overly enthusiastic messages filled with links
- Receiving multiple invites from the same company
- Lack of personal information
Of course, not every profile that includes these elements will be suspicious. However, LinkedIn scams are very real, and fake profiles do exist. Before you accept any form of outreach, take the time to review their profile and make sure they’re real and credible.
The Power of LinkedIn Connections
With so many social media sites trending lately, it can be easy to downplay the importance of LinkedIn. However, this platform remains one of the most powerful professional networking tools around.
While you might be concerned about accepting LinkedIn connections from a stranger, most of the time it’s fine to accept. In fact, as these seven reasons reveal, you could even reap some major business benefits by doing so! As long as you do your due diligence and make sure their profile checks out, add them to your network and keep growing.
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