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On Linkedin, often I get connection requests from people I don't know. Most of the time we share 1-2 connections and/or studied at the same university. Sometimes we don't have any mutual connections and don't seem to have anything in common, so I have absolutely no idea how those people find me. I send connection requests only to people I know personally, but I accept 99% of requests from other people even if I don't know them, because why not, having more people in my network might be useful.

I'm afraid, however, that it might look unprofessional, and that somebody would ask me: "Hey, I see you have Jon A. in your Linkedin network, we worked together at X! Where did you meet him?". And I'd have to admit that I have absolutely no idea who Jon is and that I can't even recall this name. In fact, I had this situation once during a job interview several years ago, and it was super awkward, the interviewer then asked me: "So, do you know Jon or not? Do I get it right that you don't remember Jon? Why did you even add him?".

Is it okay to accept requests from people I don't know? Can it make my profile look less professional?

Upd: I see it's a duplicate of LinkedIn invitations from people I don't know , couldn't find that question before asking this one.

3

I don't think it's unprofessional, for the same reason you gave - having more people in your network can indeed be useful.

In your awkward interview, you could have made it less awkward by being honest, like you have been with us. People love it when you give honest answers in interviews, rather than trying to seem perfect.

I can't recall why Jon's in my contacts. I don't remember working with him, but a lot of people add me as a contact, so he's probably done that.

2

You are right, it's ultimately unprofessional and bad for your personal branding. Avoid adding unknown strangers on LinkedIn, unless they give you a good reason with their introductory note.

A professional network is an asset for your career. When colleagues approach you saying "I saw you are connected to Dr. X, could you please introduce me?", it won't sound good to say "sorry, I just added Dr. X but I never interacted with her/him".

As long as you know WHY you are connecting with another LinkedIn user, you can provide a satisfactory answer. Some users do not even share their connections with their primary network, and that's often the main reason strangers fish for connections.

  • 1
    I agree with this. I just ignore requests from people I have never heard of, mainly recruiters. Very occasionally, someone will ask nicely to be added and I have to state my network is only people I have personally worked with or very close friends. I was always deeply suspicious that once allowed in a recruiter would start plowing through my contacts. – Justin May 13 at 8:29

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