Please Take the Time to Do This Important LinkedIn Function

By Wayne Breitbarth, Andersen Alumnus and CEO-Power Formula LLC (Author of “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-Start Your Business, Brand and Job Search’)

Are you taking enough time to evaluate and respond to your inbound requests to connect on LinkedIn?

I'm guessing probably not.

During the fifty or so one-on-one LinkedIn consultations I've done over the past few months, I learned that most people have a just-get-it-done attitude when it comes to responding to invitations to connect. Well, personal experience has taught me that a thoughtful, personal response will many times open the elusive door to opportunity, and here are some simple ways you can capitalize on these invitations.

Attitude is everything

Most people who invite you to join their network are hoping to build on a relationship you already have or start a new relationship that will be mutually beneficial.

Granted—there will be spammers or people who do not have your best interests in mind. That's one of social media's unavoidable challenges. But simply click Ignore and get rid of them as fast as you can.

Now, some people won't take the time to explain why they want to connect with you—and others won't even know how to send a personalized note. But if you start with the premise that these people could be referrals from your longtime clients and not simply people who just want to sell you something, it will be easier to spend a few extra minutes considering whether they'll be a good addition to your network.

How to uncover potential opportunities

Rather than addressing your inbound invitations while you're standing in the grocery checkout line, set aside some time to devote to this task. Then open the entire list by clicking Network in your top toolbar and choosing Manage all. Then evaluate each invitation as follows:

If you know the person well and interact with them often, click the Accept button and, at a minimum, send a message back to thank them for initiating the invitation and express your desire to help each other in the future.

If the person or the company they represent sounds somewhat familiar to you, go directly to their profile and see what information you can gather.

  • How do they describe themselves in their Headline and Summary?
  • How many connections do they have and how complete is their profile?
  • How many and who are your mutual connections?
  • What responsibility do they have in their current job and where did they work in the past?
  • What are they sharing and writing? (View their Articles and Activity)
  • Where and when did they go to school?
  • What accomplishments do they display?

This information should help clarify whether they would be a good addition to your network.

If you choose to accept them, I challenge you to send a follow-up thank-you message. This simple, kind gesture will be the first step toward growing this relationship into one that will produce results.

It can also be advantageous to offer something of value in your note, like a helpful resource or an invitation to an upcoming event. You can either attach the information or provide a link to it.

Another simple way to add immediate value to this relationship is to introduce them to people in your network who could help them in some way—and hopefully the introduction will be beneficial for both parties.

If you'd like to take it a step further, suggest a follow-up phone call or meeting. I use Calendly, a calendar sharing tool that makes it easy to book an appointment with me.

If neither the person nor the company they represent is familiar to you, don't hastily click Ignore but instead follow the same vetting steps mentioned above. You may just find some gold in them thar hills.

They took the time to send you an invitation and undoubtedly have a reason for wanting you to join their network. If you'd like to uncover the reason, you can send them a message before accepting the invitation by clicking Message below their entry on the Manage Invitations page.

Spend the extra time, and soon those relationships will bring new opportunities you would have missed if you had hurried through your inbound invitations.


For more simple strategies to improve your LinkedIn ROI, along with a detailed critique of your profile, take advantage of my limited time offer: a one-hour, one-on-one phone consultation for just $175 (50% off my regular fee).

I will share my computer screen with you during the call and send you a marked up copy of your profile prior to the call.