It has happened to all of us at some point. What do you do when you get a LinkedIn request from a stranger? Should you accept? Is it rude not to? Are you dooming yourself to professional networking purgatory by not accepting?
1) LinkedIn has limits
2) Connection mining
3) Protecting and respecting your network
1) LinkedIn only allows all users a maximum of 3,000 connections. This is basically to prevent abuse. If you need to remove a connection, then check out the info on this page. Don't worry about offending anyone—the connection will not be notified when you remove them. Will you ever hit the 3,000 limit? I’ve never known someone who has but you never know…
2) Connection miners are people who connect with everyone on LinkedIn in an attempt to make their profile more impressive and push people for job opportunities. If a stranger walked up to you, handed you a business card, and said, “Let’s hangout” and then walked away, would you call them? Probably not. A random LinkedIn connection request is equivalent to that. Not only is it bad etiquette, but it also makes a poor first impression. I authored a blog post for Definition 6 about the people who spray business cards around at conferences like lawn sprinklers. The random LinkedIn request from a stranger is the digital equivalent of the "card sprinkler."
3) Also, it is important to remember that by accepting a request with someone you don't know, you are granting them closer access to not only yourself but your LinkedIn connections as well. Your LinkedIn shared connections immediately become a 2nd level connection to the stranger you just accepted into your life. If you're starting to get paranoid right now, I don't blame you. There are some privacy options on LinkedIn. While you can limit what info your connections see, I suggest not accepting a connection request from someone you don't actually know. More info on how to hide info from connections here: http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/52
On the flip-side, don’t be offended if someone you send a connection request to on LinkedIn doesn't respond. Everyone uses each social media network differently, especially LinkedIn.