Career Connector

Connecting with Those You Know

As my readers know I am a longtime LinkedIn fan, and have been since its inception. It’s an incredible career development, as well as networking, tool. If you look at my profile you will see I have 500+ connections – and I’m proud to say that, virtually to a person, I know every one of them. Of course I know some much better than others, but I’ve met virtually all of them by phone at least.

LinkedIn makes a point of saying you should only connect with people you know. And yet, lots of people do the opposite, in order to bolster their networks and get to more people more quickly–again, for career development. My question is: Is this wise?

For those of you new grads or those still in college, this is a question you should ponder as you’re setting up your LinkedIn account. If you don’t know the people in your network, will you still feel comfortable referring them to others? Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I take pride in the people I recommend and am often told I have great resources. Aren’t you only as good as the people you know? I think there’s a lot of truth to that.

Now some of you will say that you simply connect with anyone who asks, and I know that’s how many people operate—there is a whole group of people on LinkedIn called “Open Networkers”. But let’s play this out for a moment: Many requests to refer people on LinkedIn are job-related (career development again). So say I refer someone to a close contact of mine regarding a job. If I don’t know anything about that person aside from what is written on their LinkedIn profile, should I go ahead and refer them? Why should I waste my colleague’s time?

I just debated this topic with one of my favorite people, Jamie Nacht Farrell.  And she takes a bit of a different approach, accepting most invitations to connect. She is an amazing networker, and she is also more trusting than I am—after all, she’s a Gen Y!




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4 Responses to Connecting with Those You Know

  1. Jeffrey Mills says:

    I filter out the sales folks and accept the rest.

  2. Lindsay Rothman says:

    Allison, I totally agree with your use of LinkedIn. Taking pride in the people you recommend and making a point of actually knowing them shows that you’re using the tool effectively. It does not mean you’re old fashioned. Technology aside, I think LinkedIn is just a tool to harvest your contacts and increase the value of your personal brand. Those who will add anyone just for the sake of adding a +1 to their number of connections don’t know how to play the game.

  3. Randy Patterson says:

    I appreciate your attitude towards LinkedIn. After much pressure from people I know and respect I gave in and started accepting invitations from people I did not know. Then the dreaded day came when one of those people that I did not know asked to be introduced to someone in my network. I really did feel like a complete stranger had just walked up to me and asked me to introduce them to my friend. It was a very awkward moment for me because I did not want to give my friend the impression that I was recommending this person, yet I felt obligated to make the introduction…

    I immediately reverted back to my old policy of only connecting with people I knew personally or at least have met and know their reputation.

  4. Allison says:

    Randy, I’m so glad you told this story. This is exactly what concerns me about accepting random invitations. And the more connections you have, the more people want to connect with you. I believe it should be treated like a braintrust; otherwise, what is the point? Do you need to know the name of everyone you see walking down the street? If you do, how does that help you?

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