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I frequently get invitations on LinkedIn from people whom I don't know. We often have several shared connections, but don't know each other personally.

I am more inclined to ignore invitations from people I don't know.

What should I take into account in such cases? What do I need to consider to decide whether to accept the invitations?

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I usually respond to such invitations with a "How could be of help to each other?" line. If I receive no response or a vague one, I decline the invitation. –  drabsv Aug 13 '12 at 20:41

5 Answers 5

It depends on how you plan to use LinkedIn.


Do you plan to use LinkedIn to keep track of past and present coworkers? (i.e. Keep track of their education history, job history, accomplishments, etc.)

If 'Yes', then don't accept these LinkedIn invitations.


On the other hand, if you plan to use LinkedIn to network and find new jobs, then you should accept these invitations if the connections can be of some utility to you (i.e. the "inviter" has an accomplished past, or is a recruiter who can connect you with better employment in the future.)

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Precise and helpful +1 :) –  noob Aug 13 '12 at 9:29

If you plan to use LinkedIn the way how they recommend themselves, a definitive reference for cases like that is provided at Linkedin Help Center -> Accepting or Declining Invitations:

What are my options when responding to invitations to connect?

We strongly recommend that you only accept invitations to connect from people you know. You can select who can send you invitations from the Email Preferences section on your Settings page.

Your options for responding to an invitation are...

Above sends a clear message about LinkedIn's own position on these matters.

This is not a strongly enforced rule however. LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONs) are an example of an opposite approach:

...LinkedIn networking philosophy is based on a simple rule that says that a person should invite to connect only persons that they personally know (for instance, school colleagues, coworkers, business partners, service providers etc.). However, this limitation is viewed by some members of the LinkedIn community as overly restrictive. So some of them have adopted a policy of accepting invitations even from strangers. They circumvent some LinkedIn requirements (e.g. having to know a person's email address in order to send a linking invitation to them) by publicly posting their email addresses in their profiles, and stating that they openly accept invitations, thus becoming LinkedIn Open Networkers, or simply LIONs. The most LION's rule is that in no circumstance an invitation is to be replied by clicking the "I don't know X" (X being the name of the person that sent the invitation) or even worse, mark it as spam...

One is not bound to follow either of extreme approaches outlined above.

  • I for one decide whether to accept invitation on case by case basis.
    In some cases, "Reply (don't accept yet)" option turns out really useful in helping to decide.

    You sent me an invitation recently - why would you want to connect?

Bottom line is, this is the matter on how one intends to use their LinkedIn network.

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Let's see what happen depending on why you use LinkedIn.

  • LinkedIn as a way to find business opportunities

In this case, you are more likely to be the one that sends invitation instead of being the one to receives them. You should accept a connection only if there is a potential business ahead, which is unlikely with cold invitations. Most of the time in this case you should ignore the invitation.

  • LinkedIn as a way to find a job

Except if the invitation is issued by a recruiters or someone from a company you target, you should ignore the invitation.

  • LinkedIn as a way to stay in touch with your network (via groups for instance)

Someone you don't know is not in your network, again you should ignore the invitation.

  • LinkedIn as a way to show the world that your have a large network and that you're "important" in your field

If you are important, people already know you. If you want to be seen as an important professional, at least make sure that you have high quality connections. Ignore most invitation, apply a strong filtering.

  • You are a recruiter - full time

You can accept anyone. The more people you know, the more chance you have to find a suitable candidate for your client.

As a conclusion: most of the time it seems better to ignore invitations. Even from people you know. Note that in many cases, people ask for connections only for the purpose of sending messages. Make sure that there is a public way to contact you and you will avoid most of the cold invitations.

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The first thing is to figure out if you are talking to a recruiter or someone from the company actually hiring. If it's someone from the company that's hiring I would definitely talk to them.

However if they are an independent recruiter or with an agency (or in some cases on contract for the company as a talent agent wit the company email but they are still basically a recruiter) then I treat these as the same as cold calls on your phone asking for just a few minutes of your time and oh - could I get a Word resume please (another sign that it's not the perfect job and you are just being added to a list - or worse being added to their internal client database for yes more... future calls) so my advice for those ones is yes, ignore them.

Time is short and opportunities abound in most software jobs right now so I would take advantage of that and spend your time more wisely. One thought is to spend this time learning and training to be more attractive to employers who, after all, are interested in your training, experience and qualifications, not your talks with recruiters.

It's hard to turn these contact down when you are actually seeking a job, so real discipline is required but it's the right thing to do IMHO. This is based on my own 'been there, done that' experiences over 25 years in the industry.

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what if the one who invites is not a recruiter but a CEO at some company? Though I still don't know why he's sent an invitation –  superM Aug 12 '12 at 19:41
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well yeah that's true. I will update –  Michael Durrant Aug 13 '12 at 0:25

This is my usual process.

When I receive an invitation from a person that is personally unknown to me, I would accept their invitation and then start a dialogue with them. The dialogue is in the line of "I see from your profile that you are involve in the media industry as a script writer. How's that working out for you in France?"

I am thinking that if some effort has been made to create the invitation, then I should at least accept the invitation and to find out who he is and what he is about.

Now if the person is unresponsive, then I would just remove him from my list.

The bottom line is a connection is linkedin.com should not be just a passive statistic in your profile. By starting a dialogue with them, you have a much better experience with them.

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The effort comes from the establishing the link that between you and him. I think you have to specify how the two are linked together during the invitation process. However, it does become trivial if you lie about your connection and just choose any one of your previous positions. But that would be bad. –  tehnyit Aug 17 '12 at 7:21

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