Do you connect with anyone who requests one on LinkedIn? Do you only connect with those you know personally? Are you consciously making a decision about a LinkedIn Connections strategy?
Start with "Why":
Why are you on LinkedIn? Here are some of the reasons:
- to have a presence in your industry
- to look for a new job
- to sell to others
- to grow your business
- to grow your network
- to share content
- to search other's content
Your purpose on LinkedIn should inform your strategy involving connections. For those who are using LinkedIn for sales leads, it may make sense to connect with everyone you can in your target market. (If they suspect you're connecting to sell them, don't be surprised if your invitation is not accepted....)
If you're looking to grow your professional network and anticipate looking for a job, the time to make those connections is NOW - not when you're in the job hunt. You're much more likely to get help from a connection that's real or that's been nurtured than reaching out to someone you don't know.
For those looking to share content, join groups that your content would help or interest. Many people stop at joining professional groups in their own industries. That can be helpful for a professional network, but won't expand your audience. Look for groups that might be interested in what you have to say.
My personal philosophy is to only connect with people that I know personally or have met in some capacity. When I offer help to others by telling them to look through my connections to see if they'd like to be introduced to someone, I want to know that person well enough to be able to refer them - and know whether the referral is appropriate. I can't do that if I have never met you or worked with you.
If you choose not to connect with someone, you can still "follow" them. This will allow you to see their posts and content, you just won't be in their contact list. So: if you invite someone to connect and they don't accept, don't take it personally. You can choose to follow them. If you comment on their posts or send messages and begin to form a relationship, they may wish to connect in the future.
Review Your Settings
You should also be intentional in your settings; don't let LinkedIn make those decisions for you with their default settings. Under Settings/Visibility, for instance, you can choose who can see the various sections of your profile, who can see your Connections, etc. (It makes the most sense for only your Connections to see your other Connections...otherwise, there's no advantage to being connected to you.)
Under Settings, you can also decide who can reach out to you, whether and how often you get email notifications from LinkedIn, You can also manage your advertising profile. You're going to get ads within LinkedIn, so you may as well make sure they're at least relevant to you by completing your advertising profile.
Whatever you decide, make sure it's intentional. Start with examining why you're on LinkedIn and go from there.