Often times I get the question posed to me; “If I don’t know XYZ person, should I accept them as a connection on LinkedIn?” To which I reply, “Absolutely!”
Now you may wonder why I suggest connecting with a perfect stranger, but here is the thing… it’s called social networking- emphasis on social. Which means making new connections as well as keeping in touch with old ones. We can liken it a lot to high school- the more people who you know and who know you, the better off you’ll be!
LinkedIn is unique to the other social networks in that it displays degrees of separation when you see someone you would like to get to know. If they are a 1st degree you are connected with them. 2nd degree is a friend of one of your connections. 3rd degree is a friend of a friend of a connection. Anything beyond that is “out of your network.”
As you are also no doubt aware, LinkedIn is less about purely socializing and more about business than the other social media. So when you do a search for, let’s say, venture capitalist because you have a great new business idea and you want to pursue investors to pitch it to- LinkedIn is the perfect place to start. Now, if you see one of those venture capitalist is a 3rd or even a 2nd degree connection, see how you are connected with them and ask those connections to refer you.
I say this all the time, but I cannot stress it enough; word of mouth is trusted by 70% of the population more than anything else! Social media is just one giant “word of mouth” referral. So ask for that connection referral- even if it’s a stranger- and tell them why they should refer you and what you will be bringing to the table of benefit.
In short, accept everyone you can who wants to connect with you (so long as they do not look like obvious spam) because it’s a lot like a box of chocolates- “You never know what you’re gonna get” and you never know when that connection may come in handy. After all, when has there ever been harm in growing you business networking base?
CEO & Founder
New Media Fluent