Note: October 15, 2017: This page could do with some updating, but the general sentiment about connecting – or not – on LinkedIn remains.
LinkedIn is a key social networking platform for professionals. Some would say, and with justification, that it is the key such platform.
Some people use LinkedIn very actively to help them network and to promote their own brand. Others may have become members and have a profile on the site but for many of those the profile does not get much attention. I’ve written a number of posts about how to get value from a LinkedIn membership and these are listed below.
The Connection Game
Probably for many people, LinkedIn is that thing they get annoying messages about, with someone they may or may not know inviting them to become part of their network.
So how does this “connecting on LinkedIn” game work?
The short story is, differently for different people, depending on their views of LinkedIn and how their LinkedIn activities can best serve their interests. My aim here is to explain how I use LinkedIn and specifically my approach to the connecting process.
How I connect with people on LinkedIn.
I have to say at the outset that my approach is basically aligned with LinkedIn’s advice to only connect with people I know and trust.
How I apply that is stated at the end of my LinkedIn Profile, as follows:
For invitations to connect, I follow the LinkedIn guideline to only connect with people I know and trust – i.e. I can recommend them with a degree of confidence. That means I need to have a real conversation, by phone or Skype, before I will consider connecting with someone I have not had previous dealings with. I also expect that someone wanting to link will have read this profile. I am generally not interested in following up on boilerplate invitations.
In spite of that statement, which I have made as clear-cut as I can, I still get the boilerplate invitations, the requests from people who are members of a LinkedIn or other group to which I belong but with whom I’ve never had a conversation.
When I get one of the boilerplate invitations, which just says “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” I usually wonder why anyone bothers to send these things. There are exceptions, for example when I know someone really well and we’ve both realised we haven’t yet connected directly on LinkedIn. But they are exceptions.
But generally it surely makes sense to add a personal note, and there is provision for adding some words to make the invitation more personal, maybe adding a clue that we have worked together on a project or some other indication as to why it would be a good thing for us to connect our networks.
It’s not that I don’t like connecting with people: I just need to talk before we connect our LinkedIn networks
Anyone who knows me will tell you I love meeting people, connecting and networking. So if you would like to connect, really, not just add me to your list without actual contact, but we’ve never had a conversation, why not email me – deswalsh(at)gmail(dot)com or see if we can connect on Skype (my username on Skype is deswalsh)?
And if we met or worked together years ago and you think I might just not remember, please include that in your invitation.
As I say, it’s not that I don’t like networking. Far from it! It’s just that I intend to keep that 1st level of connections on LinkedIn for people I can recommend to others or introduce to one another with confidence that I actually know something about the people I’m recommending or introducing.
Even a relatively small first level of connections can represent a very large network
By the standards of some people, the “super connectors” on LinkedIn, my relatively small first level network of over 3,000 means that I am am needlessly limiting myself.
Back when I still had fewer than 1,000 connections and LinkedIn used to give us more detailed information about our networks, I had over 15 million people accessible to me through the LinkedIn Introduction system. I have more than three times that number now so I can only assume my