One question I get every single time I present on LinkedIn, no matter the audience. “Should I connect with everyone on LinkedIn?” It is a personal decision, but here are some things to consider as you decide where you land on the spectrum of connection styles.

Years ago, the term LION was popular and you’d even see it as a featured emblem on the profile, as if a badge of honor: LinkedIn Open Networker. This let people know that they would accept any connection request. Why would someone do this and what are the pros and cons?

The Numbers Game

Some people relate pure numbers to lead potential. Personally, I find a pre-qualified, trusted audience much more successful and way less time consuming.

Search Results

Another argument is that the more connected you are, the more you’ll show up in search purely based on the fact that you are in closer network (1 or 2 degrees) to essentially everyone else on LinkedIn.

Here’s the problem with that. LinkedIn search shows 10 people on one page. If I type in “mortgage lender” and even limit it to Chicago, I get 5542 results. That’s competition people! So if your reason for open networking is to show up in search, you’re better off having a highly optimized profile and sharing exceptional, engaging content on a consistent basis. Just as Google would expect of you.

A Relevant Newsfeed

I’ve seen articles that promote open networking say things like “LinkedIn is not Facebook, you don’t need to be so protective”. Not true. LinkedIn gets hacked. LinkedIn advertises based on your data and activities. People can mine your connections.

And all that aside, if you’re an intentional LinkedIn user, you watch your newsfeed to engage in content from influencers, strategic partners and potential leads. If you are connected to thousands of people you have absolutely no relationship or relevance too, your newsfeed could be overwhelmed by “Facebooky” posts, sales pitches and other status updates (yes even dating requests) that you care nothing about. Why connect with everyone simply to have to unfollow their updates to restore sanity to your newsfeed?

LinkedIn Messenger

What was once considered more of an email communication has since been turned into a real time messaging platform. You may notice that more people jump to LinkedIn messenger with a  pitch as soon as you connect. The more you connect to people you don’t have some level of trust with, the more work you’re going to have to do to keep your inbox relevant, and risk losing true leads in the long list of unwelcome pitches and more.

So Who Should I Trust?

Again, everyone has a different bar. Here’s my process.

If someone I do not know sends me a request, I first review our in common connections. If there are several and I have a current trust level with them, points.

If the profile is complete and I see potential to support one another in business, points.

If it comes with a personalized (not templated) message as to why they want to connect, more points.

If all of the above, definitely.

And no, if you ‘ignore’ a request the person will not get a message saying that you have denied their connection request.

So, consider your goals for LinkedIn, and how much time you want to spend dealing with things of no relevance to find the quality within.

Keep in mind that if you are in the legal industry, there may be other ethics considerations to consider when it comes to connecting on LinkedIn.