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?
Andy Lopata says
Who you connect with on LinkedIn depends very much on what you use the network for.
I see LinkedIn predominantly as a referral-generation network, allowing me to ask my trusted contacts for introductions to people they know. If I am connected to people I don’t know, like or trust it would be difficult to ask them to make connections for me, and uncomfortable if they asked me to refer them.
The exception may be people overseas whom I couldn’t stay in touch with otherwise and with whom I share something strong in common. For example, I have accepted LinkedIn connections from people who attended my recent talk in Bucharest because it offers me the best chance of developing a relationship with them. Similarly I connect with fellow writers for The National Networker, most of whom are based in the US, as there is an implied trust through our joint roles at TNNW.
It’s not all black and white, there are always shades of grey and you have to look at each connection on their own merits.
.-= Andy Lopata´s last blog ..Are there cultures where networking just can’t work? =-.
Matthew Franklin says
Thank u very much for the mention and the reply in the form of a post. As ever very helpful and interesting.
Thanks Matt, and thanks Andy too.
I can’t remember who suggested replying to questions with blog posts, but its a great idea because rather than helping one person you can share your suggestions with whomsoever needs an answer.
Another thought for a blog post there!
Mandie Holgate says
Thanks for your thoughts Su.
I agree with your comments and would add that people I do not connect with are the ones who contact me for the first time with a “Hi look at my website or check out my special offer”
What about getting to know me first before you sell at me.
I am always happy to connect with people I do not know as I like to help other businesses wherever I can, so I find Linked in a great opportunity to do that virtual as I get to in the real world.
Best Wishes and now worrying whether I am worthy of a connection!
.-= Mandie Holgate´s last blog ..Introductory Blog =-.
Thanks for the addition, I agree. I’d even go as far as to say ‘you’ll never need to sell at me ever again’ (thank goodness!)