Connecting with Strangers on LinkedIn

Are you connecting with strangers on LinkedIn?

What do you do when you receive a LinkedIn connection request from a Total Stranger?

In my last post, I talked about the rules I applied when connecting to people on the various Social Media platforms including LinkedIn.

When connecting you could do any of the following:

  • Ignore them
  • Report them as Spammers
  • Accept their connection
  • Engage them

On LinkedIn I choose to engage them before deciding to connect. I want a response before connecting.

When I receive a request from a stranger I do the following:

  • I check out their profile and determine if this is someone I want to connect with.  I have received a few connection requests from people that I do really not want to be associated with.
  • I send them a note via the Reply (don’t accept yet) button.  You are probably saying where the heck is that button.  In the video below I will show you how to find this magic button.

The note I send says something like:


Have we met?  If so please remind me.  If not, (if they are in Austin) would you like to meet for a cup of coffee? (if they are not in Austin) could we have a short phone call to discuss the context of your connection request and how I might be able to help you?

Looking forward to meeting you.

Marc Miller

Over the last year, I figure that maybe 1 in 4 respond. I have met a lot of interesting people this way.

Watch the video below and I will walk you through this process.

How do you handle connection requests from total strangers?


Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?


Check out my book which is available on!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

You can also download my whitepaperDon’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest  curated content relating to baby boomers.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist


  1. I have a similar method of handling strangers’ requests to link.

    My first criteria is “Do I actually know the person?” If I do, of course, I accept the invite.

    My second question is “If not, do I gain an obvious advantage by being linked to them?” If it would be strategically advantageous to link, I will accept the invite. In addition to the more obvious situations of a thought-leader in my field, or a recruiter (always a connection, but I have a category for if I haven’t actually worked with them), there is also the circumstance if they work at a company I want to work for.

    My third question is “If not, did they give me a reason to link with them in their invitation?” Even a simple “Hey I read your blog and it really helped me” gets more from me than “I’d like to add you to my professional network” does. The former shows a little effort and the latter shows they can click a button.

    If by this point they haven’t hooked me, then I send a “rejection letter” –

    Generally I don’t accept LinkedIn invitations from people that I haven’t had some direct interaction with, either meeting in person or some sort of online correspondence. Unfortunately I do not recall you, though that could just be poor memory. If we have interacted before, please remind me of the context of that interaction. Otherwise, I am open to meeting or corresponding with you.

    Thanks for understanding,

    In it I acknowledge that sometimes I am bad about remembering people’s names, and give them an opening to talk about themselves. Beyond that, I tell them that I’ll be happy to have the interactions with them needed to make the connection, but won’t connect with them until then.

    I’m not very aggressive in pushing them to meet with me, mostly because I don’t have the time to meet with some of the people I already know and want to spend more time with. But I’m open to it if they take some initiative.

    And, after all, it is my time and network they want to impose themseves on, the onus of explaining why I would want to do that is on them.

    • Marc Miller says:

      You are way too nice. I say I suffer from CRS or Can’t Remember ……Stuff.

      I am now to the point if people are connecting to me because they have read my blog and want to connect that is AOK with me. Please tell me that though.

      My next post will be on the “Art of Connecting”.

  2. Thank you for this great example of civility and savvy marketing and for being an all-round great guy. I refer people to you because I know you will give them the best of care.

  3. Jaekuk Kim says:

    Hi Marc and Jim,

    This article is very useful for me to handle my LinkedIn network connection requests. I used to ignore those connection requests from someone I may not know directly, but I feel that I get to engage them more actively. Thanks for you guys tips.

  4. Johnny the skeptic says:

    I’m not a social media hoor 😉 — the only real SM service I use is FB, and even then only for personal (closed loop, no strangers allowed) relationships. I don’t blog, don’t use twitter, and have never ever felt a need or desire to do so. I don’t own or run a business, my usage of LI is all about finding (a) resources (knowledge, information, ideas) and (b) potential work opportunities.

    I’m onboard with allowing complete strangers to peruse my profile in LinkedIn as that’s the point in having a profile on >work< oriented site, but the concept of "linking" to people was, in my belief, originally intended to indicate a trusted relationship.

    I get that you can meet a stranger and become aquainted and from there develop a "trusted" relationship, however I would argue that it is counterproductive (i.e., "wrong") to start your relationship granting "trust" sight unseen. That seems to invalidate and cheapen the very concept of the trusted relationship. Anyone else see it this way?

    • Marc Miller says:

      A lot of Social Media is used in ways no one intended. For example, there are LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) which accept any LinkedIn connection request just so they have huge networks. This is counter to LinkedIn user agreement but……

  5. I do not have time to engage people, but check them out, if they are in my area of expertise and don’t look like a spammer and legit, I accept. I am not a “LION” or even have 500+ by a long shot. I use to hit ignore and have hit Spam when it’s obvious, I read on connections…quality not quantity. I suppose some people think it’s a status to have 500+ and people you do not know sum up 90% of your connection if not more. I have accepted connections from a few out of my sector, don’t ask me why? I thought it was good to be diversified.

    Aside from career opportunities, I have not seen much benefit from LinkedIn. I rarely if ever talk to my connections, even past co-workers who are equally as busy stabbing forward. I have tried connecting with people in my sector that I don’t know, out of the hopes of broadening my network, I even customize the message and make it personal but the success rate is not too high on getting a response or an accept. There are those out there that do mass connection requests just to get the status symbol connection count…

Speak Your Mind