How to Accept or Decline LinkedIn Invitations

Here is some guidance on what to do when you're faced with a LinkedIn invitation, and you have to decide whether to happily accept or gracefully decline it. When you receive an invitation to join someone's network of connections and you're not sure whether to accept or decline the invitation, ask yourself these questions:

  • How well do you know this person? Hopefully, the inviter has included a custom message clueing you in to who she is. You can click the name to read that person's profile, which usually helps trigger your memory. If you don't know this person, you probably don't want to add him to your network yet. If you do know him, consider whether he's worth adding to your network.

  • Does this person fit with the goals of your network? It's easier to put together a network when you've established a sense of the purpose you want it to serve. When you're looking at this invitation, simply ask yourself, “Does accepting this invitation help further my goals?”

  • Is this someone with whom you want to communicate and include in your network? If you don't like someone or don't want to do business with him, you should certainly not feel obligated to accept the invitation. Keep in mind that these people will have access to your network and can hit you up with introduction and recommendation requests.

If you're thinking of declining an invitation, here are some tips to help you do so gracefully:

  • Respond quickly. If you wait to respond to the invitation and then decide to go ahead and decline the invite, the other person might be even more offended and confused. Respond quickly so that this issue isn't hanging over anyone's head.

  • If necessary, ask for more information. If you feel uncomfortable because you don't know the person well but want to consider the invitation before you decline, respond with a request for more information, such as, “I appreciate your interest, but I am having trouble placing our previous meetings. Please let me know how we know each other and what your goals are for LinkedIn. Thanks again.”

  • Respond politely but with a firm no. You can simply write something along the lines of, “Thank you for your interest; I appreciate your eagerness. Unfortunately, because I’m not familiar with you, I’m not interested in connecting with you on LinkedIn just yet.”

    Then, if you want, you can spell out the terms in which you might be interested in connecting, such as if the opportunity ever arises to get to know the person better or if he is referred to you by a friend.

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