I’ve got 49 pending Linkedin invitations in my inbox at the moment. I get a lot, partly because I have a lot of contacts on Linkedin (over 500). But I clearly don’t accept them all.
Matt Franklin (the architect in Shropshire who runs Ask The Architect) asked me tonight:
“@SuButcher Just been looking at Linkedin myself. What criteria do you use for your connections in terms of how you know them?”
So here’s my answer – the types of people I connect with on Linkedin.
1. Professional people I know well
These are the people I have met face to face and know well. Often these are people I’ve worked with or for. By connecting with them on Linkedin I can see what they are up to in their professional life and help them easily when they need it.
Some people only connect on Linkedin to these type of people. That’s ok by me, you do what feels right.
2. Friends and Family
Another category of people I know well, and for similar reasons. Whilst I accept that Linkedin is a professional network, my friends and family members who join linkedin do so too, so I can connect with them and expect them to behave professionally!
One of my friends, in fact the husband of a woman I shared an NCT group with when I had my son, helped me invaluably by connecting me to a relative of his. Just goes to show how useful people who trust you can be.
3. People I’ve met and don’t know well yet.
Linkedin is in fact a good way to get to know people, if you use it properly. If I meet people I hit it off with, I’ll often look them up on Linkedin and ask to connect. But note, I rarely invite non Linkedin users to connect with me there. Probably because I don’t have time to teach everyone 1-2-1 how to use it…
4. People I know well online but haven’t met.
I know many people I haven’t met yet. This is the legacy of online networking, which I took up because I couldn’t go out and meet people on a regular basis due to family commitments.
Some of my most useful contacts live in the USA and I may never get to meet them, but they are very close friends and consummate professionals. If I limited my Linkedin network to people I met I’d miss out on the support and advice of these invaluable people. Many of them I have met first and got to know on Twitter, and then connected on Linkedin when it became apparent that we should establish a more formal, visible professional connection.
5. People I’d like to meet but haven’t yet
If someone requests to connect with me on Linkedin I check out their profile, and if I think ‘here is someone I’d like to meet’ then I may agree to connect with them. I can use Linkedin to develop a relationship with them.
6. People I’ve connected with by chance or mistake
There are always a few of these, but very few. Sometimes people I connect with on Linkedin turn out not to be suitable connections for me and I disconnect. But this is rare.
So, hold on a minute Su, I hear you say – you’re connecting with people you haven’t met and don’t know very well?
Yes, I say, but as you can tell I don’t connect to just anyone. I couldn’t recommend everyone I’m connected with, but then I don’t endorse all my connections, I use recommendations sparingly and with discernment, when it seems to be appropriate, and probably not enough, come to think of it.
Who do you connect to, and who do you leave out?