There are 20 unanswered invitations in my Linkedin queue.

That’s 20 people I have never met who want to add me to their list of contacts. Some just seem to be collecting contacts like some people collect stamps or pieces of string.

I’m not planning to respond to most of them, certainly not all of them. If that makes me look mean-spirited, then too bad.

Linkedin is useful when it is a contact book. It makes sense to store details of people I’ve worked with in the past. As I’m a journalist I have connections to key industry contacts mainly in New Zealand and Australia. And there are some old friends in there.

It doesn’t make sense to fill my Linkedin contact book at random. There’s no prize for having the most contacts. Nor is there any value. In fact, filling my Linkedin account with spam entries makes it harder to sort the wheat from the chaff when I need to find someone in a hurry.

Sometimes I suspect I’m invited to connect because someone dumped the contents of their email into Linkedin. Those requests are often just the stock message.

The problem is when someone I don’t know wants to connect for a good reason. In the last six months I’ve had two new freelance gigs from unknown contacts through Linkedin. For that reason alone, a simple “I won’t connect unless I know you” rule isn’t good enough.

Most of the time I make a judgement call. At the risk of sounding bigoted, if someone from a third world country who I’ve never met and has no obvious business in New Zealand contacts me, I reject them. Likewise people I don’t know who have job titles like ‘social media guru’ get rejected. I’m sorry if that’s you.

If the request message has something other than the stock message, I’m inclined to look more kindly on the request. And if I have any doubt, I flick back an email asking the requester why they picked me. About half never reply – which tells you what kind of contact they will turn out to be.

Are there other strategies for dealing with Linkedin requests?