This is almost always the first thing people ask when we discuss their LinkedIn profiles. “What do I do with all those people who want to connect with me? How do they know me? What do they want from me? What if I accept them and then they want to do business with me?”
It will be helpful to remember two things.
- LinkedIn is a professional business platform and we come here to do business. That person who wants to connect with you might need your services, might be looking for a job in your industry and is trying to make contacts, or he might be wanting to sell you something. That’s okay. You are not posting pictures here of your children on the beach, so there is no personal information to worry about. Its okay to build your profile with people who may want to do business with you, or who just want to build their own network.
- LinkedIn, like the rest of your social media, is a tool. And you can use your tool to build whatever comes into your mind. You may be trying to break into a particular industry or a geographic region, and you are making or accepting contacts in that space. Perhaps you are more conservative and you only want to connect with people you have actually made offline life, eye contact with. Either way is acceptable and is your decision. Do not let other people tell you who you *should* be accepting or ignoring.
When people connect with you, the best way to elevate them about just another number, and to make sure that you engage with them. This is best done by first tagging them in an appropriate manner, so that you can communicate with them according to their needs. And secondly by sending a personal message either when you reach out and connect, or when they connect and you accept.
This practice will be explained in a later post, but it has proved to be the most important element of my LinkedIn experience. When I don’t send a personal message at the beginning, and then I try to pitch a product, I have offended people. But reaching out in person has proven to develop professional relationships and business.