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!