On LinkedIn, when you connect with someone, they become one of your “connections”, while on Facebook they are your “friends” and Twitter they are your “followers”. Its social media jargon, but understanding it will help you navigate the site.

It is inevitable, someone . . . well many someones’ will reach out to you and ask to connect to you on LinkedIn. Some you will know, some you will know but not want to connect with, and others will leave you thinking, “who on earth is this?”. Those you know are easy, simply click “accept”.

When people you know but do not want to be connected with you have two options:

  1. Click Ignore. The person you ignore will never know that you have ignored them! It is a great way to quietly make the invitation go away and not have the person who requested know what decision you made. (The same is true on Facebook, so you do not need to feel guilty about not accepting your crazy Aunt Sally’s friend request.)
  2. Reply to the person BEFORE ACCEPTING THEIR REQUEST with a polite response as to why you feel connecting with them on LinkedIn is not appropriate, for example: “Thanks, Elaine for reaching out. Since I use LinkedIn for my business I would feel more comfortable if we connected on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you for understanding.”

When people you don’t know reach out to you, again you have two options:

  1. Click Ignore. Again, they will never know that you ignored them!
  2. Reply to the person BEFORE ACCEPTING THEIR REQUEST, with a message asking them why they are interested in connecting, for example: “Thank you for reaching out. I am happy to connect with you. May I ask how you heard about me and why you are interested in connecting? Thank you in advance for your help.” This will weed out the people who are only interested in increasing the number of connections that they have—those people rarely respond. As for the others, if they are interested they will answer your questions and it creates an opportunity to open up dialog with them.

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