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Recently, I received a private message from a male business professional on LinkedIn asking me for more information about WriterGirl…and my phone number.

At first, I thought it may be a good business prospect, but soon realized that it was more likely he was hitting on me. He was from the United Arab Emirates. His business’ website looked delightfully shady. And when he was in college, I was in diapers.

Unlike Facebook, where I only accept friendships from people I have actually met in real life, with LinkedIn, I have always accepted any connection that asks. Why not? You never know who you will connect with and where that relationship will go.

Call me naïve, but I always used LinkedIn for business opportunities, knowledge and discussions. I didn’t think some would use it as a dating website (I’m talking to you, Mr. Phone-number-asker). But after getting his message, I’ve determined it’s not a good idea to connect with just anyone.

Below is a list of tips to help you determine whether you should accept that request to connect on LinkedIn. After all, quality connections are much more valuable than the quantity of connections.

  • Are they in your industry? If you work in the healthcare industry and they sell villas in the Caribbean, it is likely the connection will not be of value. (Unless, of course, you are looking to purchase a villa in the Caribbean). On the other hand, if you are a healthcare marketer and the person asking to connect is another healthcare marketer, you could learn a lot from their posts.
  • Will this connection benefit you professionally? If you are currently on the job hunt and the person asking to connect is a recruiter, connecting is a no-brainer.
  • Did they attend your college or university? If they attended the same school as you, you may have had a class with them or maybe they just want alumni camaraderie and to build their network.
  • Are their posts relevant and interesting to you? If you are passionate about animal rights, but you are a healthcare marketer, it makes sense to connect with PETA if you are interested in their cause. 
  • Do you know them personally? Duh! Connect!
  • Are they good looking? Just kidding!

As a LinkedIn user, do you have any more tips to add to your list? Let us know.