I get this question every day from engineers: Should I accept a LinkedIn connection invite from anyone, even if I do not know them? My short answer is YES, however I will explain my answer in the next few paragraphs.
Most people are on LinkedIn because they want to be found. Whether it’s by a prospective employer, prospective client, or another person who may bring you some type of career opportunity, you want to be found. The way to ensure that you get found is to ensure that you are on the top of the LinkedIn search results for certain keywords in your industry, for example: “Civil Engineering Consultant in New York City.”
There are many different factors that LinkedIn considers in determining the search rankings. Included among these factors are the completeness of your LinkedIn profile, the keywords that show up on your profile, as well as the total number of connections you have. That’s right, the more connections you have, the better chance you have in ranking towards the top of certain search terms. That is the main reason why I tell people to accept all connection invitations on LinkedIn.
Now let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute and consider the question, “What if I don’t want people I don’t know seeing my profile or my connections?”
I like to think of a LinkedIn profile as an online resume. If you build your profile like your resume, there really shouldn’t be too much information on there that you would feel uncomfortable giving out. This is not Facebook and you shouldn’t use LinkedIn to post or share personal information. It is strictly a business networking website. Here are a few tips on what to show (and not show) on your LinkedIn profile, especially when taking the approach of connecting with everyone:
- List your office phone number instead of your cell phone number (unless you are unemployed)
- If you feel compelled to put your birthday on there (which I don’t recommend), leave your birth year out to protect against identity theft·
- List your work e-mail address instead of your personal e-mail address
Also with respect to your connections, you can modify your settings so that your connections are not visible to other people. By doing this, people will not be able to connect with you and then run through your list of connections, which many people do. Again, this may or may not bother you, but if it does, simply turn them off.
In addition to turning off your connections, your LinkedIn settings also allows you to set different privacy controls including turning on/off your activity broadcasts, selecting who can see your activity feed and more.
I hope this post alleviates some of your concerns about connecting with people you don’t know on LinkedIn. Remember, the objective is to get found.
This is a guest post by Anthony Fasano, PE, author of Engineer Your Own Success. Anthony found success as an engineer at a very early age and now writes and podcasts to help other engineers do the same. Visit Anthony’s website atEngineeringCareerCoach.com and subscribe to the top 3 resources Anthony has used to become a partner in a firm at the age of 27.