LinkedIn lets you explicitly ignore people

LinkedIn has added a third option for handling connection requests—now, in addition to accepting or rejecting a request, you can explicitly ignore a request. This will prevent you from being sent those annoying messages without having to notify anybody, with an implicit expectation of an explanation.

I see this as a good feature, but this hasn’t generally been a problem for me on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, one doesn’t tend to get hit randomly like on the more open communities, such as Ryze or Orkut, where I have a number of unreciprocated friend requests. Random hits aren’t necessarily a bad thing, if you’re trying to increase your visibility, but if you’re extremely focused in your relationship-building and want only highly qualified contacts, the more closed approach works better.

Here are a couple of tips for improving the chances of connecting via LinkedIn:

1. Successful connections drop off significantly at three degrees of separation (You=>Friend=>FoaF=>Target), and at four degrees, you might as well forget it.

[Follow-up: Apparently, my impression based on my experience was not representative of the norm. In a conversation with LinkedIn’s Konstantin Guerecke, I learned that those fall-offs don’t happen nearly as much as you might think. I can’t disclose the numbers yet—they’ll be in The Virtual Handshake—but I can say that the fall-off is greater between 2nd and 3rd degree than between 3rd and 4th degree, and that 4th-degree referrals on LinkedIn have a much higher success rate than I would have expected, less than 30% lower than 2nd-degree referrals.]

2. Always personalize the request. I’m amazed at the number of requests I get that just use the stock verbiage. How am I supposed to act on that? And why? Just because the person knows someone who knows someone who I know doesn’t give me any information about trust, qualifications, etc. If it’s worth forwarding, it’s worth personalizing.