Author: Lavie Margolin, Career Coach
The main value of networking on LinkedIn is connecting or reconnecting with the people that you know. Why? Because they in turn can connect you to the people that they know. What if you add someone that you do not know to your network? Are you comfortable connecting that person to your trusted colleagues? What if the person is not exactly who they say they are and make you look bad? Do you want to deal with that? How about when a friend asks you about one of your LinkedIn contacts? You do not have anything to say about the person because you do not actually know them. How will that reflect on you?
By having Open Networkers in your contact list, you are diminishing the value of your network. No longer are there infinite possibilities for connections just one level away from you, they are just people that no one actually knows. Does that mean that you should click on the LinkedIn option to’ ignore’ or ‘don’t know’, the next time you get a LinkedIn invitation? Not necessarily. If you don’t recognize the name, ask how they know you. You will often be surprised that you do know the person but recognize them by a different name (perhaps nickname or maiden name) or it has been awhile and you forgot the person’s name.
When I am sure that I don’t know someone and it appears they are not just trying to add numbers (i.e. they do not have LION in their profile name or do not live in a far off land in which I am unlikely to know anyone), I will send them a message: Thank you for the invitation to connect. Please remind me if we have met before. If we have not, please let me know how I can be of assistance to you. Normally, I only accept LinkedIn invitations from people that I know. I am always glad to make new contacts and would happily accept once a professional relationship is established.
I copy and paste the message instead of writing it over and over again. Nineteen out of twenty times, the person does not respond but I have built great professional relationships with those that do. If there is something about the person’s background or experience that catches your eye, mention that as a special interest when you reply.
Above all, be patient in building up your LinkedIn network. It is better to have 50 trusted colleagues that 900 people that you do not know. You will get to the 500+ level if you are patient and establish your list of contacts in the right way. Good luck and don’t be shy, feel free to send me an email on LinkedIn and I’d be glad to add you to my network once a relationship is established!
About the Author: Lavie Margolin is a New York-based Career Coach and the author of Lion Cub Job Search: Practical Job Search Assistance for Practical Job Seekers. To learn more, go to Lavie’s website, Lion Cub Job Search:www.Lioncubjobsearch.com