Who do you want to connect to on LinkedIn?

You might be surprised at the number of people you know (or know of) who have LinkedIn profiles. Here’s a partial list:

  • colleagues at your current and former companies
  • alumni from current and former schools
  • people you worked with in the past (for instance, journalists may search for people they’ve interviewed, media relations people, periodical editors and corporate clients they’ve written for, and so on)
  • people you’d like to work with in the future
  • people who belong to professional organizations that you belong to
  • people who participate in online training forums with you
  • people who share the same Skills you have
  • subject matter experts
  • other people in your profession
  • People You May Know: Once you complete your profile, LinkedIn starts to search for other LinkedIn members you might know and displays three of them in the top right corner of your LinkedIn home page, just under the search bar. Click the People You May Know title and LinkedIn displays more people it thinks you might know.

Who might you not want to connect with

Theoretically, any connections are good in LinkedIn. That said, think twice before you connect with certain types of people on LinkedIn.

People you don’t know, or people who don’t know you

Connecting to somebody on LinkedIn implies to other people that you know that connection well, or at least have had dealings together. This matters because of the trust implied in this connection, and the benefits that trust brings.

  • Your connections can “see” your connections, and you can “see” theirs.
  • You get updates on their activity, whether they post the updates or LinkedIn reports changes in their profiles.
  • Other people may ask you about your connections, and vice versa.

LinkedIn extends trust to you too. It lets you invite people to connect without entering their email addresses. But if recipients respond to your invitation by clicking the “Report spam” button embedded in every invitation, you’ll be asked to enter an email address with each future invitation. There goes LinkedIn’s trust in you.

LIONs

No, LinkedIn is not a zoo. LION is a powerful-sounding acronym for LinkedIn Open Networker. These LinkedIn members will accept connection requests from anybody.

If you know a LION who wants to connect with you, go ahead and connect.

If you don’t know a LION, think about why you would connect with that person. It probably doesn’t hurt to link to LIONs, but I suggest you build your network based on quality rather than quantity of contacts. If you do things like receive requests for recommendations, scan updates from your network and ask for introductions to other people, you’ll realize your network is stronger if you actually know the people you’re connected to.

Besides, ongoing, habitual efforts to reach out to people using LinkedIn will result in large numbers of contacts soon enough.

People with one or no contacts

While we all start somewhere, be leery of accepting connection requests from people you don’t know who have no contacts and little you find relevant in their LinkedIn profiles. FYI: LinkedIn flags such people to group moderators when they ask to join a LinkedIn group.

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