I've noticed an uptick in requests to connect with colleagues on LinkedIn since the beginning of the year. Where I once received a handful a week, I am now receiving a handful a day! Many are from people I already know and have worked with (most of which I thought I was already connected to!), but just as many are from people I don't know at all.
While I am more than happy to connect to people I know, I'm disinclined to connect with many that I don't know. On Facebook I would never connect to a total stranger, but for some reason on LinkedIn it seems more acceptable to do so since it's a social media site for business.
I have colleagues who will connect to anyone and everyone on LinkedIn who requests to connect to them. Usually they work in sales and are happy for any lead they can get. I, on the other hand, don't really want to be pitched or sold to via my LinkedIn connections, so I tend to decline invites from most people I don't know.
My only exception is if the person requesting the connection works locally in PR or marketing or might work for a company that I would like to work with as a Blabbermouth Communications client. Then I am willing to connect with them in the hopes that it might turn into a lead some day, though I do not sell them on my agency and its services just because we are now connected.
So how do you use LinkedIn? Do you connect only to people you know or know of, or do you accept anyone who invites you to connect? Do you use your connections for sales leads or to generate new business for your company or agency?