Imagine yourself at a networking event. You’ve been there talking to people you know well when a stranger walks up to you, introduces themselves, and says “I’ve heard about you and would like to talk.” Would you ignore them or ask them to go away? Of course not. You would say hello and talk to them, at least briefly to find out more. Yet I constantly hear people say “I don’t connect to anyone I don’t know” when talking about social media.
When using social networks, you need to be open to meeting new people. If you’re not then why are you on? You could keep in touch with people you already know by phone and e-mail. Being on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook is like going to a popular club. If all you want to do is hang out with friends, you can do that at home at a local bar. The point to going out to a popular club is to be seen. That’s the point of connecting via social media.
Particularly if you are a businessperson, you want people to find you and ask about what you do and how you can help them. Then why would you turn them away once they get to you?
I am not advocating connecting with everyone and anyone. If you don’t know the person who is asking to connect to you, send them a message. Ask about them and why they want to connect to you. Start a conversation. If you want, you can accept any invitation. If it doesn’t work out, you can delete them from your contacts.
Social networks exist to make connections. If all you do is connect to people you know well, all you’re doing is making the network into an online address book.