With more than 500 million members, LinkedIn is a great tool for connecting with virtually any professional. But it feels like some people are just in it to accumulate connections like it’s a contest. I get lots of invitations from people I don’t know. My response is to send an email of thanks and a question as to why they reached out. Most of the time, I get no response. Do people think it helps their career or business to be connected to hundreds of people they don’t know and don’t really want to know?
Social media is a tool for networking, but it doesn’t change the old rules. Even Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, says: “For the network to have value as an introduction tool, the connections need to have meaning. [I]f you'd feel awkward chatting with them or introducing them to someone in your network, decline [the invitation to connect] -- without a guilty conscience.”
I like making LinkedIn connections to build professional relationships. My clients expect me to have a large pool of go-to people—accountants, attorneys, realtors, bankers, and so forth—as professional resources. Making LinkedIn connections to professionals with whom I may already have a dozen or more common connections helps me foster those second-level connections faster.
For tips on using LinkedIn to really connect with your network, see https://www.themuse.com/advice/having-500-linkedin-contacts-means-nothing-unless