As Porter Gale launches her new tome Your Network is Your Net Worth, I am reminded of another aspect of networking that has both risk and opportunity. How do you handle requests to connect from people you do not know or know little? I have written previously about the Etiquette of Connecting and those rules still apply for most if not all situations. That said, conventional wisdom would have it that you simply do not connect for the precise reason that you do not know the person.
Consider this, however; there is a possibility that the person who wants to add you to their network may hold the key to your future, could add value to one of your endeavors, or can contribute to someone in your network. So what are the metrics to consider in assessing the benefits of connecting? Herewith are the top ten reasons to connect with someone you do not know.
10. Someone in your network knows the requestor and can validate their identity, giving you a rationale to link up.
9. The requestor works at a company with whom you are familiar and may be in a position to be helpful to you now or in the future.
8. The career of the requestor squares with your interests and can serve as an example to emulate.
7. The requestor could be a potential customer by virtue of their current job, sphere of influence, network, or memberships.
6. You and the requestor are enrolled in one or more of the same LinkedIn Groups.
5. The requestor seeking to connect is a headhunter in your field.
4. The requestor is a member of the same trade or professional association as you.
3. The requestor hails from another country, is in the same industry, and shares similar interests.
2. The requestor may be a distant cousin or long-lost relative. Check ancestry.com.
1. You have an opportunity to enlighten, engage, and add value to another human being you did not know. You also have the potential good fortune to broaden your knowledge, gain new perspectives on life, and maybe learn things you might otherwise have remained ignorant about.
Gerry Corbett is the PRJobCoach at prjobcoach.com and CEO of Redphlag LLC, a strategy consultancy. He has served four decades in senior communications roles at Fortune 100 firms and earlier in his career in aerospace and computer engineering with NASA. He has a B.A. in public relations from San Jose State University and is a member of the International Advertising Association, National Investor Relations Institute; Arthur Page Society, National Association of Science Writers, and International Coaching Federation.