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I’ve had numerous speaking engagements since 2006 where I’ve touched on how job seekers, employees, entrepreneurs and students can leverage LinkedIn for career and business success. In these presentations, I always mention that you should accept all of your LinkedIn contact requests even if you don’t know the person. There’s always a lot of criticism around this piece of advice because people are still very private, aren’t trusting and don’t understand the power of having a larger network on LinkedIn. My stand on this issue has been the same since 2006.

Here are five reasons why you should accept everyone:

  1. Referrals. The best way to get a new job is through a referral, anyone will tell you that. By increasing your first degree contacts, you have more people who can introduce you to hiring managers that you didn’t have access to.
  2. Research. I view LinkedIn as a professional research directory. It’s the white pages for professionals. If you don’t have a large network on LinkedIn, then you are limited in the number of profiles you can view when searching.
  3. Awareness. Who knows how that person found you in the first place. When you put yourself out there, sometimes people find you interesting so they connect with you. If you’re ultra paranoid, then why not just email them and find out how they found you?
  4. Influence. The number of contacts on LinkedIn has an impact on your Klout.com score. Klout is becoming more important to employers who are looking to identify talent that has social media influence. If you have a low Klout score, it can hurt your chances of getting a job in some industries like marketing, PR, media and communications.
  5. Branding. The size of your network on LinkedIn if visible up to five hundred contacts. If you don’t have many contacts, then you will appear to be less valuable because your network is your net worth. If a recruiter is choosing between hiring two people based on LinkedIn profiles, the person with 500 contact will beat out the person with only 20 every time.

Of course there are exceptions, aren’t there always! If your top competitor or someone you dislike adds you, you shouldn’t accept them.

Add me on LinkedIn and see for yourself: http://linkedin.com/in/danschawbel


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31 Responses to Why I Accept All LinkedIn Contact Requests

  1. Mark M says:

    I’ve given this some though myself and one of the problems is that you end up validating bots and spammers. You often see these ‘people’ in linkedin groups promoting various spammy things. If you use google image search you’ll find that their profile photos are stolen from someone else. They are able to get accepted into groups where they start spamming largely because they look like legitimate accounts. They look like legitimate accounts because people blindly accept their requests to connect.

    Here’s an example of an account that is currently spamming a group I belong to:
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/maisie-tia/5a/985/5a5/

    Her photo is Russian tennis player Anastasia Myskina (who I promise is not an HR Menager[sic] at Motorola). She has a handful of connections, a vague, but believable job, and 21 connections.

    Accepting all connections without consideration helps these people create fake but legitimate looking accounts. I also accept connections from people I don’t know, but I do a little vetting first.

  2. That’s just another great post Dan.

    I found it SUPER EASY to get more and more very lucrative job offers since I got my few LinkedIn recommendations and reciprocity – in terms of connecting others – works great!

    If you – you Dan, and you fellow Dan’s blog commenters – want to join my high-tech and training/coaching connections, feel free to find me on http://linkedin.com/in/ludwikc

    See you on LinkedIn!
    Ludwik C. Siadlak

  3. Greg Scott says:

    Personally and professionally, I place a very high value on authenticity. Gaming systems is a short term strategy that destroys credibility. I would advise building real relationships. Not only will this create deeper professional value, but a richer personal life.

  4. Ari Herzog says:

    Strategy is key.

    When strangers send me friend requests on LinkedIn, I immediately look at the person’s “title” and geography. If also in New England, it’s an immediate positive response. If also in the marketing/communications/government realms, it’s an immediate response. Any other geography/title, I send a quick reply asking why the friend request.

    I won’t accept random friend requests from Singapore and India, for instance, without such inquiries.

    This way I am open but strategic.

  5. Tom Reaoch says:

    Dan,
    I agree with the 5 reasons to accept but I also agree with Mark M. that some vetting is required. I have received a number of fake profiles which I report to LinkedIn.

  6. Dan, I am guessing that since you are an author and public figure, you get a large number of valid requests. It makes sense as a public figure to accept all requests. I think that shows good will. I am always surprised by public figures that do not accept requests, etc.

    I am thinking, however, that for many of us who are not public figures, we are get a good number of spammy requests. I can’t see any reason to accept such a requests.

  7. Seems to me that implicit in Dan’s recommendation to approval all LinkedIn connection requests is that those requests come from real people. I also am an open networker and approve all connection requests from real people.

    Do a few bogus requests slip through? Sure. Do they do any real harm. Nope. If they increase the number of spam emails I receive a day from 100 to 105, does it really matter given that we use the corporate version of Gmail (Google Apps for Business) and it does a remarkably good job of filtering spam and only spam into my spam folder? Again, nope.

  8. Ellen Ennes says:

    I just don’t find much benefit in adding someone who I honestly don’t have a former professional relationship with. I get random connection requests from people I don’t know all the time. If I was a recruiter and saw mutual connections, etc., I expect those connections to be able to give an honest recommendation of the person’s work. How could I give that to (or expect that from) someone I’ve never worked or collaborated with? Seems dishonest.

  9. Sandra says:

    While I agree with your theory, I still think that one has to be strategic about it. As mentioned above, accepting any an all requests can leave you open to spammers. But I do agree with the reasons you’ve listed – thanks for posting.

  10. [...] Branding guru Dan Schawbel has some pointers for those looking to manage requests to connect via LinkedIn (from compulsive requestors like me!). [...]

  11. Drew Bixby says:

    There are two conflicting perspectives at play here. First, there is the value of quantity on Klout score, research, first impressions, etc as you outline. Second, there is the value of quantity. Numbers don’t bring the strong, deep relationships which provide true opportunities. For example, I won’t refer someone I don’t know. So, a portion of my connections need to be deep. A tool like Promptivate can help balance those two perspectives.

  12. I agree with this article. As a marketing and sales professional, your network is your net worth. Back in 2010 I had only about 200 LinkedIn connections. I have aggressively grown my network to 1,,437 YTD by using this method of LinkingIn with every professional I come in contact with. My gmail account keeps the spam emailers at bay. Connecting with someone on LinkedIn is a way to get to know about their professional interests, whether or not you do business with them. You may be able to help them in some way in the future or vice versa.

  13. Thanks for posting. While I agree in theory with the reasons you have listed, I do not blindly accept random request to connect as I prefer building a selective and real professional relationships.

  14. Let’s assume everyone used Mr. Schawbel’s approach to LinkedIn.

    If that were the case, it would cease to be a social network. It would become a list.

    We already have that list. It’s called the phone books.

    If a strategy depends on other people not adopting that same strategy in the long run, it’s an inadvisable strategy.

  15. [...] surfaced again yesterday when I shared Dan Schawbel’s post, Why I Accept All LinkedIn Contact Requests. Dan lists 5 reasons why he connects with strangers, including referrals, research, awareness, [...]

  16. [...] Dan Schawbel, personal branding guru, recently blogged: Why I Accept All LinkedIn Contact Requests. [...]

  17. [...] surfaced again yesterday when I shared Dan Schawbel’s post, Why I Accept All LinkedIn Contact Requests. Dan lists 5 reasons why he connects with strangers, including referrals, research, awareness, [...]

  18. Interesting post and I used to follow the same strategy until last year. Now there are too many fake profiles and spammers in LinkedIn to accept everyone sending an invite — The old days of being able to accept all invites are over for me. I now have to look at every invite and if they don’t have a picture and have a complete profile, I will not accept the invitation. It is quite shame that LinkedIn can’t control any of the fake profile problems and spammers particularly for paying customers like me.

    My advice is to accept legitimate looking profiles, those who you know, those who have some connection (group connections, etc…), local area connections, those who send a personal note with invite or those who you find interesting and may be able to network with.

  19. Mark M says:

    The biggest problem is that it is almost impossible to distinguish between a fake a profile and a real one. How do you vet someone unless you know them? The fake profiles have real-sounding jobs, histories, belong to groups, and have headshots. The most effective method I’ve found is running their headshot through google’s reverse image search. Fake profiles almost always steal a headshot from another person. But this is a fair amount of work.

    But what’s frustrating is that these people have several hundred connections. The way this SHOULD work is that I should be able to look and see they are connected to people I know. This should encourage trust. But this falls apart when people accept all invites. Because now I can’t trust that their connections mean anything.

    Accepting a fake profile doesn’t really hurt you—it hurts everyone else. Because these fake profiles now, with trust garnered by your connection, are able to gain admittance into groups where they proceed to spam everyone. Accepting invitations from fake accounts is one of the reasons linkedin groups are mostly useless unless the moderator treats it as a full time job.

  20. JulieK says:

    I thought LI was supposed to be about your CONNECTIONS though? If I don’t KNOW the person in some way then why would I want them as a “connection”?? I see the main points but I’m not sure I could follow this advice 100%…

  21. [...] brouhaha started with a piece by well-respected personal-branding expert Dan Schwabel, “Why I Accept All LinkedIn Contact Requests.” Schwabel gave five reasons for recommending an “all aboard” approach, while [...]

  22. I have also taken the ‘connecting versus collecting’ route. Initially I thought that it would be great to get a high number of connections but there are just so many people playing that game that the number of invites I was receiving was mind-numbing. Last fall I wrote about why I pass on certain invitations (about 80% of them these days) http://jeffmayernik.com/2012/09/linkedin/

  23. [...] Dan Schawbel, who has a hard-to-fathom 7,400 connections, has written a compelling argument here. He says that you appear more influential and more powerful to others if you have more than 500 [...]

  24. While researching for some good content for my new LinkedIn group, I came across Dan Schawbel’s interesting article and, in theory, agree with the principles outlined. I also agree with Mark M’s comment about being careful in accepting all connection requests unfortunately. To give an example, I’ve been receiving numerous requests from what I believe are bogus profiles – they all have scant information on the profiles, the person’s location is Malaysia, the job titles are similar and I have doubts about the photos used .
    Here are just two examples of requests I’ve received but both had exactly the same profile photo. I’ve informed LinkedIn Customer Service and sent screenshots of the tops of both profiles and of the actual connection requests. I’m also not sure if these profiles are still on LinkedIn as I couldn’t find them today: Estela Clemons, Team Lead at TeraData, Malaysia, Warehousing/Alba Wiley, Manager at Infosys, Malaysia, Publishing.
    Another difficulty in accepting all requests is that many internet marketers have joined who appear to use the platform solely to grow their downlines/teams etc and sell their mlm businesses/products etc. to you and who are totally disinterested in connecting/networking professionally. These people also want to join groups to promote their businesses or to sell so all potential new members to my groups go through an approval process prior to gaining membership.

  25. Brian Brown says:

    I agree with the article for one simple reason, networking is one of the biggest thing one can do in todays world to help with your career. Linked In is one of the greatest websites when it comes to professional networking.

  26. iherb says:

    There’s definately a great deal to know about this issue. I like all of the points you made.

  27. [...] Schawbel believes you should accept LinkedIn requests from [...]

  28. Alpierce says:

    Create a separate email for job search related and linkedin. Spamming problem solved.

  29. [...] Dan Schawbel, who has a hard-to-fathom 7,400 connections, has written a compelling argument here. He says that you appear more influential and more powerful to others if you have more than 500 [...]

  30. Doug Ales says:

    Thank you for writing this article Dan. LinkedIn is truly is a priceless tool for business.

    I have found sending someone a link to connect works better then sending them a invitation.

    I made this link http://bit.ly/link2doug

    If you enter that in your browser address bar, we will join networks. Hope this tip helps.

    Again, thank you for your article on accepting LinkedIn invitations.

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