If you have a LinkedIn profile, like most of us do, you probably receive connection requests from your colleagues, partners, friends, acquaintances… and complete and total strangers.

Not that long ago I used to accept every single request, looking proudly at the growing number of contacts, feeling pleased I had such tangible proof of my own significance. This went on for quite some time, until I needed to connect with Jeffrey, a CEO of a well-established local company with whom I had partnership plans. Looking at the list of common connections I had with that gentlemen, I found that there were 8 people I could contact. I wrote a nice email to each of those 8 people, asking for an introduction. Within several days all of them replied – and none of them really knew Jeffrey.

It is not the quantity of people in your network that matters, but the quality of relationships with those people. What happens to your news feed after adding all those random people is that it becomes absolutely unrelated to your interests, filled with updates from people you don’t know nor care about. In the end, you won’t be able to motivate yourself to browse through your own feed.

LinkedIn connections are supposed to be real-life connections. LinkedIn itself encourages you to connect only with people you worked with and can recommend to others.

But that, of course, does not mean you should be ignorant and rude to people who approach you, but who you can’t remember. Being open-mind and humble are the most important qualities for a networker. You never know who this person could turn out to be. It pays off to engage in a conversation and try to find who the person is and what kind of interest they have towards you, before accepting or rejecting the connection.

Here is what I do when I get approached by a stranger on LinkedIn or Facebook: instead of accepting or declining the contact immediately, I greet the person in a very friendly matter – ask them how they’re doing, etc. – and then say that I’m “a bit short on memory lately” and would like to recall them so it would be great if they could remind me about our previous interactions.

Per my own stats, about half of incoming connections don’t reply back, about a quarter of them reply that they attended one of my seminars and would like to follow what I do (those kinds of requests I redirect to my fan Facebook page and do not add them to contacts), and the rest are business offers and opportunities that I might review and consider.

Let me draw a parallel here: your LinkedIn profile is, in a way, your home. Do you invite all the strangers you meet to your home, and let them stay there as long as they want? That doesn’t really happen that often, right? People who surround us – whether offline or online – influence our mindset, our emotions, our actions, our life.

We are, each of us, the average of people we hang out with the most. Make sure you are surrounded by great people.

And what is your personal policy on friend requests and connection invitations?