LinkedIn – Do your connections count?

Posted by | August 21, 2012 | Social Media, Tips For Job Seekers

Are you LinkedIn?  How do you decide who you want to connect with?  Lately, I seem to be flooded with invites from people I don’t know, people who are not relevant to my line of work and people who live in other countries.

Making new connections is always a good thing, but just how good is it when that new connection is completely irrelevant?  I suppose I should define what I mean by an irrelevant contact, after all, everyone in their own right is relevant.

When building your connections you should be looking for people you have connected with personally – whether they are colleagues, old classmates, people you met at conferences or networking events (and of course friends!).  It could be a contact whom you only know through emails, or someone you have spoken with face to face, even if it was just in passing.  The point of LinkedIn is professional networking – so make sure those you connect with can help you in your professional endeavours.

Now, I am sure some will argue that the more connections you have, the better.  That it doesn’t matter if there is no connection between you and the person at the other end of the invite, because networking is networking.

However, if you don’t know a thing about that person, about how they can help you and vice versa, how can you be sure it’s going to be beneficial?  You don’t want to start looking like a contact collector who is only out to build a roster of connections from around the world when you know very well that worldwide roster is full of people who don’t know a thing about you and won’t help you.

When sending forth an invite on LinkedIn I would suggest that good etiquette states you include a personal note in the invite.  A personal note can be a follow up to the encounter you recently had, or a quick reminder of how you know a person, or even a comment that your colleague suggested you two connect online.  You get the drift.

If it is someone you don’t know, definitely include a message to share with them why you want to connect.  Giving a person context is the difference between accept and decline.

I personally find it an annoyance to receive a generic LinkedIn invite from someone I haven’t a clue who they are.  Their profile may show that we have shared connections, which in my opinion is not a justification that we should connect – the fact that I worked with Mr. X 7 years ago and you now work with him is not reason enough for us to connect.

Perhaps I am doing myself a disservice by having this attitude.  What do you think?

~ Melissa Macfarlane is a Career Development Professional with Northern Lights Canada.

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