A friend of mine once sent me an email to apologize for not connecting with me via LinkedIn. He had decided that he was going to use LinkedIn specifically to link with people he had worked with and he was afraid he’d hurt my feelings by not accepting my request to connect.
His email taught me two specific things:
First: Your network is yours to cultivate as you wish. Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you have to connect with them via LinkedIn; conversely, just because you don’t know them personally doesn’t mean you can’t link with them. It all depends on what you are trying to do and who are you trying to connect with. I tend to connect with people I know in general, while my friend only wanted to stay connected to people within his immediate industry – and that’s ok! We had different goals and, therefore, different guidelines for who we chose to link with.
Second: If he hadn’t said anything, I would never have noticed. If you choose to ignore an invite, the person who sent it will only notice if they intentionally look to find out. You do receive a notice if someone has accepted your invite, but LinkedIn doesn’t send you a notice if they don’t. (To see the invitations you’ve sent, click on the envelope at the top right of the page and then in the left column, click on “sent”. You might also want to check “archive” and “trash”.)
It’s worth noting that my friend did eventually accept my invitation. He had decided that his criteria for linking was too narrow and so he had widened his scope (though I’ve always wondered if he felt bad for turning down so many requests from friends and other great connections that just happened to fall outside of the limits he had originally set.)
This raises one final point:You have a right to change your mind! If you ignored a request earlier… they don’t expire. You can always go back and accept it at a later date. In a similar vein, you can always “unlink” with someone you previously connected with. Again, LinkedIn does not notify them that you’ve disconnected so unless they go sifting through their contact list, they probably won’t even notice.
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