4. Your LinkedIn Connection List
There are two main factions who argue the merits of how one chooses connections on LinkedIn. One is LinkedIn itself. It firmly believes you should know your contacts before deciding to add them as a connection.
They say they have designed the service with that philosophy in mind. Connections, they argue, are a reflection of you professionally. If you don't know who they are, it can reflect poorly on you when people peruse your connection list.
On the other end of the spectrum are the LinkedIn Open Networkers, known as LIONs. A LION generally will add most people as a connection (whether they know them or not).
Many LIONs build huge connection lists (thousands), and see value from doing this. According to the LION entry on wikipedia, they also adamantly discourage the use of the 'I don't know' button.
'I don't know' was designed by LinkedIn to discourage random, unknown connections. If it's hit five times, a person can be blocked from LinkedIn or face consequences that prohibit their use of the service.
Dixson recommends taking somewhat of a middle ground between the two camps and work up a strategy you think makes sense for you and your profession. The key, she says, is having a consistent set of guidelines for adding connections.
But it will always be a murky issue, Dixson says. Perhaps, for instance, your criteria for adding a connection is that you know someone or have at least conducted business with them in the past.
What if, after you give a talk at a trade show or conference for example, a member of the audience writes and asks to connect with you on LinkedIn?
Dixson says it is fine to decline a connection, but that if such a case arises, it's good form to explain why. For example, you might respond this way: 'Thank you for reaching out. I'm glad you enjoyed my talk at the trade show. While I'm happy you contacted me, I don't add connections until I've done business with a person directly. As such, feel free to email me in the future and we can see what opportunities might come up'.
If you are the one sending a connection, be sure to not use the canned invitation of 'I'd like to add you as a connection' when sending the invite, especially if you feel you don't know the person incredibly well or that their memory might need some prodding. At the very least, even if they decline it, they'll be less likely to hit the dreaded 'I don't know' button.
Finally, make your connection list public, Dixson says. If you don't, you are in essence defeating the purpose of LinkedIn. It's a social network, and there isn't anything more inherently unsocial than not allowing your contacts to connect with one another. The only exception would be is if you feel showing your connections would undermine your company's competitive advantage.
NEXT PAGE: Recommend and getting recommended
- Make sure your profile doesn't wreck your professional life
- Filling out your bio
- The importance of connections
- Recommend and getting recommended