To accept or not to accept, that is the question. Like all social networks, LinkedIn has it's fair share of scammers, spammers and spambots. It's easy to never accept connection requests from strangers, but you may be missing out on opportunities to connect with good people. When someone doesn't have a profile photo or they send the generic, default connection request, it's hard to know if they are worth connecting with right away. It takes too much time to click each profile and snoop around to decide if you should accept their request.
Here is how I handle LinkedIn connection requests from strangers
I send a standard reply to anyone I don't immediately recognize. This only gets a little embarrassing if I just met the person recently, this is seldom the case.
Sorry for not accepting your LinkedIn request yet. Please remind me where we met. My head is foggy today, not enough coffee yet.
Looking for LinkedIn tips? Check out http://www.futureforth.com/blog
That's right, I plug my blog right there in my message. Why not?
I do this to the page of pending connection requests. Once I have done this I select to ignore all of the messages (tick box on the top right side). I skip the option to indicate why I'm ignoring them and move on to the next page of requests.
I eagerly connect with the people who write back. This is a little bit of a pain, because you have to return to their original connection request message. Search for their name in the LinkedIn Inbox and accept their original request.
You will find many won't reply, which means they were probably a spammer or spambot. Some will virtually slap you upside the head to remind you that you met them recently. Others will admit they don't know you personally, but wanted to connect for networking purposes or to pitch you their wares.
At the end of the day it's up to you how you handle connection requests. I have found this method works well, because it starts a conversation that may otherwise not occur. Of course, you won't have this problem if you send a personal connection request in the first place. ;)
Whether online or offline, networking is about quality over quantity.
How do you handle requests from people you don't know on LinkedIn?