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Dealing with contact requests the right way

September 29, 2015

In this edition of LinkedIn tips, Ritchie Pettauer explains how to manage connection requests.

By Ritchie Pettauer

Upon registering a new account, LinkedIn suggests you upload your current address book and send invitations to either all or selected contacts, who are already using the platform. You can also access this feature any time later by clicking “Connections” / “add connections” and then choosing one of the supported mail providers or by uploading a csv-file* containing all your contacts.

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During the first step, LinkedIn displays all of contacts who are already using LinkedIn. You can now either send connection requests to all of those or choose the persons who would like to connect with.

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During the second step, LinkedIn offers sending an invitation to register with LinkedIn to all your remaining contacts. This helps LinkedIn grow, but you should skip that offer as some people might feel offended by repeated invitations.

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Generally speaking, additional connections are either added via the search function, via direct links on business cards, via the "people you may know” screen or via groups. The bigger your network, the more users will contact you with a request to connect – chances are, some of these people will be strangers you have never met in real life. Is it a good idea to accept such requests? There is no general answer, as contact request management completely depends on your platform strategy: If you primarily use LinkedIn to do research, you might not care about increasing your network. If you are more interested in using LinkedIn as a distribution- and promotion channel, being less restrictive in accepting new connections is probably a good idea. 

For LIONs, there is no "I don’t know this person“

Some users think twice before accepting a new request, while others are happy about each new addition to their network. Some years ago, a group of users coined the term LION. The acronym means “LinkedIn Open Networker”: profiles with the tag LION in their profile are thus signalizing their willingness to accept every new connection request.Many experts have discussed the “each contact is a good contact” approach of LIONs since the idea first surfaced. Generally speaking, a contact without any real mutual business connections is nothing more than a statistic. 

Accepting and rejecting new connection requests 

New requests are listed on your connection overview page. The overview displays profile pictures, taglines and common friends.

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Have you decided to welcome a new connection to your network? Clicking the green check mark accepts the request, clicking the red “X” rejects it. LinkedIn does not explicitly notify users about rejected requests, but when visiting your profile page they will be able to see that their request has been deleted.

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LinkedIn offers an additional and voluntary classification to better understand the reasons for a rejection: a click on “I don’t know NAME” or “Report as spam” keeps the network spam-free and makes it impossible to send out mass connection requests, as a user who is repeatedly marked as unknown or spammy will not be able to contact potential new contacts for a while.

Instead of just accepting a new request, you might also send a personal message containing a short introduction and a link to your own web projects. There is no automatism available, but the extra effort of sending a catchy, personalized introduction definitely is a good investment in your future LinkedIn success. ---* The proper way of creating such a csv-file depends on your mail client. Microsoft Outlook users click “open and export” -> “import/export” -> “export to file” on Outlook’s start screen.

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