Everyone has their own personal social media policy. One friend of mine told me that he was a “Facebook prude and a LinkedIn whore.” In contrast, I’ve met people who won’t even consider accepting a LinkedIn invitation until they had at least a 15 minute conversation.

Many LinkedIn trainers tell people how to run their own personal social media policies, but this is something very personal and worth careful consideration. As a job seeker, your goal is to have a LinkedIn network that will help you meet the right contacts inside your target organization. For you, that might mean accepting every invite or even becoming a LinkedIn Open Networker (LION). For others that might look like a careful selection of emailing specific and carefully researched people.

The point is that everyone is different, including the HR person or hiring manager you just met during your interview. So, as with any delicate situation, just ask!

On your way out of the interview, ask, “Mr. Hiring Manager, would it be alright with you if I sent you a LinkedIn invitation?”

By stating it this way, i.e. not directly asking him for a connection, anyone can comfortably say, “Yes” without committing to actually accepting the invite. Sure, you might send it, but at the end of the day, he or she will decide for themselves to accept it. 

Just remember that when they do accept the invite, they will see your profile and status updates. That sounds obvious, but have you spent enough time polishing up your profile so that you are continuing to make that positive impression with them?

Make your profile interview-ready by evaluating it from the perspective of the hiring manager. Are your messages helping to support the answers to your interview questions or your personal brand?

Finally, sending the invite to an interviewer is a great way to build in a thank you note. Sure, you hear career coaches say to send a paper thank you note. But a LinkedIn invite with a thank-you written into the customized message area will gain you far more advantages than just having your Hallmark card tossed away.

As an MBA, I interviewed for GE’s leadership training program. Although I came very close to getting into the program, I wasn’t accepted. Despite this fact, I’ve kept in touch with my interviewer for the last six years. We often ask each other questions and provide each other with resources in our mutual yet distinct careers.

What’s wrong with that?

After all, if you were genuine and made a good impression in an interview, there is no reason to have a huge breakup if you don’t get the job. Believe me, it wasn’t personal! And you might as well get some benefit from it.