4 Reasons Why You Should Accept an Invitation to Connect From a Complete Stranger on LinkedIn

I had a conversation recently with a businessman who I met through LinkedIn. He did the right thing by taking the relationship offline, and invited me to have a call to see how we can help each other move forward with our businesses.

The goal of LinkedIn isn’t just to connect to people and move on, but to take the relationship offline and work on something together. Although this seems obvious, many people are just happy to connect and “build a network” which, like any passive relationship – doesn’t go very far.

Turned out, there are a lot of people I can introduce to this businessman who would love to help him with his new venture.  After the call I thought about what had just happened. I found it to be a bit strange that he wanted to speak, but wouldn’t accept my invitation to connect until we set up a call. On the phone, he told me he only accepts invitation from people he already met or spoken with (and it took a while to to coordinate the call).

I’ve heard many people say they only connect with people they’ve met, and although there’s some logic in that, here’s why you should reconsider that approach:

1. It creates a mindset of distrust.
If you assume there’s a reason not to trust a person before meeting them, you bring the distrusting approach to the relationship. Not exactly the best way to start new relationships.
A better approach would be to assume trust – unless proven otherwise. If there are no “red flags” don’t create them in your own mind.

2. People are placed in our path in life for a reason – even if we don’t know it yet.shaking hands
Whether you met them physically or not, they may hold the Invisible Golden Keys of Opportunity with the perfect introduction. Waiting for a real face-to-face meeting or a phone conversation can not only stall the process, it may cause the opportunity to vanish completely if a conversation doesn’t occur immediately.

3. There’s a good chance you can help them somehow.
Helping people is how you become successful. The more value you offer others the more successful you become. Limiting yourself to serving only those you’ve met already, can only slow down the success process.

The simple act of connecting to another professional is an act of generosity by itself, because the way LinkedIn works, connecting to a person increases their proximity to all of your connections as 2nd Degree connections.

4. It’s what LinkedIn was built for.
If you already knew everyone you needed to know in order to advance you career and grow your business, we wouldn’t need LinkedIn to exist.  LinkedIn’s mission is to “connect the world’s professionals and help them become more productive and successful” as a result of new connections. It’s not “to connect you to people you already know and met”.

LinkedIn is how you meet people you don’t know and wouldn’t know otherwise, and turn them into people you know and trust, opening yourself up to new professional opportunities – not the other way around.

This selective approach might be more appropriate for Facebook, where you share your personal life, and don’t necessarily want to let strangers into it.

Needless to say, the person I spoke with who only accepts invitations from people he knows, has a network that is very small – less than 300 people.  While the size of your network alone is not a measure of success as it must be a quality network as well, keeping it too small will also be very limiting. It’s the slow route to meeting the right person who will make you more productive and successful…

A better way is to connect with people you don’t know and then get to know them.

So should you become a “LION” (LinkedIn Open Networker) and accept all the invitations you get?

Not necessarily.

If the person has little or no information about them or their business, or if there’s a red flag of some kind, it’s pointless to connect to another “LinkedIn profile”. Clearly they are not playing the same LinkedIn game you are, and are not there to build a relationship.

But if the person is a professional who is using LinkedIn the way you do, to find new opportunities and contribute with their expertise, product, or service, there might be something that can come of it. Maybe they are not the exact customer you were looking for, but if there is something related to your interest about the person, or someone in their network he can introduce you to, why not? What does it cost you?

If the person is in the industry of interest, he/she is obviously a valuable connection, and even if the person isn’t, but lives in an area of interest, or in a related industry, or has a large network, connecting with them gives you access to meet more people who matter – people you can do business with.

Look beyond the specific person and consider that there might be someone in their network that you can really serve. Connecting to the person in between is a step closer to building a relationship with the right person.

Being too selective is the enemy of opportunity.
When opportunity knocks and you don’t open the door, it moves down the hall to your welcoming neighbor.

“Yeah, but then I get all these junk emails…”

I’ve heard people who disagree, claiming that they don’t want to deal with emails coming from random people… I can understand that.

But if you want to reach those people you can do business with, the people who you can serve, don’t concern yourself with a few junk emails here and there. Sometimes you need to pass through the wrong people to get to the right ones. Look at the junk mail as the path to the one email you’ve been waiting for!

Question: Do you accept all or most invitations to connect? Why or why not? Leave us a comment below…

Want to LIVE with intention and LOVE your life?
Stay #PluggedIn and get more life and business strategies for high performance!
Be sure to connect with me on LinkedIn, “Like” the blog on Facebook and subscribe with your email (on the right side bar) so we can stay in touch – and hopefully, meet in person soon!