For the past year I have been evaulating how some of my fellow recruiters utilize LinkedIn.  Some users believe that being an Open Networker on LinkedIn that extends and accepts all invitations is the right way to build a massive network.  Others only connect to and accept invitations that involve individuals they have some connection with.

Yesterday I read an interview in the Delta Sky Magazine with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner where he was asked about his network.  One of the questions  he was asked was, “Do you accept any requests from users on the site?”  He says,  “I have just north of 800 connections. I only accept invitations based on whether I’ve met the person, and have a trusted relationship, which I would recommend to all of our members-to make sure they are accepting invitations from members that will increase the value of their network.”

I have received countless requests from people who I’ve never met in areas of the world and/or industries that I will never be involved with.  So the question is, what value is gained by reaching out to or accepting requests from those who don’t know me or have an interest in my skills or networking with me?

About 4 months ago I was doing an in depth SAP search for one of my clients.  I have 2 people in my network who reached out to me in the last 3 years whom I did not know.  They both were working at a company I had recruited for extensively in years past, specifically for SAP requirements.  I accepted their invitations thinking that these relationships could be mutually beneficial.  Since then I have attempted to contact them on no less than 6 occasions in the 3 years we’ve been connected, with no response.  These 2 individuals are Open Networkers with at least 3000 people in their 1st line network.

So the question is, are these people really interested in networking or just gathering connections?  One example of someone who seems to be genuinely invested in networking  was mentioned in the article ” Top 25 Most Connected Recruiters on Linked” by Glen Cathey.  If you look at #24 on the list, you will see Joseph Brown.  He has 14,000 connections and has always been open to connecting me with people in his network.  Although I must tell you, in my experience he is a rarity.

If you have 1000′s of connections and don’t know most of them, why give them the impression you are interested in networking with them if you have no intention to do so.

So, before you accept or a LinkedIn request, remember the advice of LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.  Accept invitations that will increase the value of your network.