I have no problem with people I don’t know connecting with me on LinkedIn provided they are clear about why they want to do so.
What I absolutely don’t understand is why someone would send the standard LinkedIn message and expect a stranger to accept their invite. It’s actually quite a risky thing to do given that if five users state that they don’t know a person, the person’s account gets suspended. And while I don’t advocate doing that there are people out there advising their networks to do so.
So, what should you do if you want to connect to people you don’t know?
- Do your research. Take a look at their profile and think about why you want to connect with the person. And, more importantly, let them know why they should connect with you.
- Send a personalised invitation to connect letting the person know how you came across them (in a group, in a search, through a contact etc) and why you would like to connect. It may be they share great content and you’d like to learn from them or you want to share ideas. Let the other person know what’s in it for them.
- If the person you want to connect with is not in one of your groups, it can be tempting to say they are a friend rather than selecting ‘Other’. My advice is don’t! It’s really annoying getting invites from people who say they are your friend when you have never come across them. When you select ‘other’ you will need to input the person’s email address but if it’s someone you really want to connect with, I’d advise taking the time to do a google search to find out their email address – you can probably find a link to their website from their LinkedIn homepage. It shows you are honest and that you’re not just trying to randomly grow your number of connections.