If you’ve read my thoughts about networking and specifically about growing your network on LinkedIn, you know that I’m a big believer in broadening your network. In fact, I believe it is important to have as diverse a network as possible and to be liberal in accepting LinkedIn connection requests.

Part of the power of LinkedIn is second-level connections—your connections’ connections, who can help you enlarge your own circle. That second level gives you a way to get your messages in front of people you haven’t met but who would benefit from connecting with you.

There’s no shortcut to building strong authentic relationships, but there is a shortcut to getting on the radar of those who need to know you. And that shortcut is loosening your parameters for your network. Of course, you need to have the right mindset about LinkedIn and networking. Effective personal branding and networking are about generosity—focusing on what you can give to others, not the other way around. When you approach networking this way, you can build real relationships.

In all of my keynotes, I let people know that I accept almost every LinkedIn connection request I get. Recently, I was delivering a webinar and was asked, “Who do you not accept?” As much as I encourage open networking, there’s a reason I say “almost” every request. So who doesn’t make the cut? That is just as important as who you let in.

My “don’t accept” list comprises the following 7 types of troublemakers:

1. The Mystery Profile. LinkedIn tells us that having a photo makes it 14 times more likely for your profile to be viewed—and for good reason. The web is a weird place. A profile without a headshot is immediately suspect. It begs the questions: Is this a real person? Is this some kind of scam or phishing expedition? Are they hiding something? In terms of perception, putting your pic on your profile is similar to signing your name to a legal document.

2. The Company Masquerading as a Person. Some people (think salespeople) create a profile for the sole purpose of selling their wares. They’re not looking to build their personal brand or form human connections. They’re seeking to promote their company. Their headline might look like this: We Help Businesses Increase Sales through Multichannel Lead Gen & Social Selling Strategies. And where their headshot should be, there’s a company logo.

3. The Minimalist. Pithy has its place. I like it when people are skilled at using the fewest possible words to make their point. But there’s a limit. It amazes me that people will take the time to reach out for a connection request, but they won’t take the time to write even one sentence for each of their experience entries. Again, it makes me dubious about their motives. These profiles scream “lazy,” not “generous.”

4. The Foot-in-the-Door Hawker. The headline is less about what they do and more about delivering a pitch. Their headline sounds blatantly salesy. You can easily spot them: Want more sales? Call me; I will double your revenue in three months or your money back; Do you want a new way to make money while you sleep? They’re more like those late night informercials than real people.

5. The Un-Punctilious Person. These profiles have more typos than accurately spelled words. There’s often little or no punctuation and weird line spacing as well. They typically have a lot in common with the minimalists—and we should be thankful for that (fewer typos to read).
6. The Pseudo-Custom Requester. These LinkedIn requests are designed to make you think that someone took the time to learn about you and is really eager to get to know you personally. They mention something from your profile to make it look like they have been following you. But in fact, these messages are likely being sent, hundreds a day, by an assistant, or even a bot. I got one today that read, “I like what you’re doing at William Arruda – Motivational Speaker” because that’s exactly what my first experience line in my profile says. Someone (or something) is clearly copying and pasting that first experience entry line into the same form letter. Maybe you got one too.

7. The Trojan Horse. These connection request messages bear seemingly free gifts delivered out of the goodness of the sender’s heart: “I’d love to connect with you and to thank you for connecting, I’m giving you access to my latest e-book, which normally costs $9. Just click here to download it.” That’s not generosity. It’s germination: What will follow is an endless barrage of time-sucking emails or LinkedIn messages checking in “to see how you’re doing.”

To build a strong and diverse array of contacts on LinkedIn, it’s fine to open your network to people you don’t know, as long as you steer clear of these 7 personas.

Written: William Arruda
Source: forbes.com
Photo: redial (google)

William Arruda is a founder of CareerBlast and co-creator of BrandBoost - a video-based personal branding talent development experience.