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One way to maintain a strong online presence is to grow your network and connect with new people all of the time. That is how you grow your tribe. Once you are known to be influential online, you will end up with many new Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus followers, and will also end up having new Facebook friend requests. If you are also known to be an Open Networker, you will receive many new LinkedIn connections. However, one thing to keep in mind if you are indeed an Open Networker, as tempting as it is to accept every friend request that comes towards your way- you must check a few things before accepting the individual into your network.

What to Look Out for when Receiving New Friend Requests

You will absolutely want to think twice before accepting someone into your network, if any of the issues listed below are present-

1. Mutual Friends– If someone requests you as a friend, the first thing to usually check for is if that person has mutual friends, and who the mutual friends are. If that individual has a lot of mutual friends, then chances are it is okay to accept the connection. If the person has a handful of mutual friends, especially if these friends are not overly close to you- you may want to send the individual a message and ask where he or she found you. It may sound cold, however, you don’t want to let someone into your network who could cause you trouble!

2. Profile Pictures– There are many good potential contacts who do not use an avatar or who use an avatar that may not be appropriate for networking, ie a cartoon. Especially if you have seen the individual around and he or she seems to have a decent reputation. However, if someone with no avatar or a non-professional avatar wants to add you into his or her network, you will want to think twice. Check who the mutual friends are, and check to see what that person’a profile is like. If there is very little or inappropriate content, or if something does not “add up” (your intuition never lies, if something does not seem right then chances are it is not), it will be in your best interest to decline. Many of these types are spammers, or may be fake accounts.

3. Duplicate Accounts– Some people have several profiles, one for networking and one for friendship. If the individual has created a separate account for one of those reasons and had added you to it, he or she would likely let you know before hand. However, if not- do not accept right away. In fact ask the individual through the other account if he or she created a new profile. If not, then there is an impersonator on the loose and must be reported.

4. Reputation– Sometimes even if someone who requests you as a friend happens to be professional, seems genuine, and has many mutual friends- do not always accept. Especially if that individual has a questionable reputation. You could be opening your doors to trouble that you would not want. If you are warned about someone from a variety of people, and that particular someone has added you as a friend, decline as fast as you can! There is a reason you are being warned about that person!

However, at the same time, if you receive a friend request on Facebook from anyone who fits in the first two descriptions, check your messages and click to the Other folder. It may be that this individual had already left you a message explaining why he or she wants to connect with you and the reason may be very good- even if he or she knows nothing about social media! Then it would be in your best interest to accept the connection. That has happened to me a few times, and I have to say I was very glad to have checked the Other folder.

Be mindful with who you connect with, as it is easy to forget if you are growing your network!

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