Who should you connect to on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn connectYour LinkedIn success depends a lot on who you are connected to.  Many professionals on LinkedIn misunderstand this and believe that you should be connected to as many people as you can convince to accept your connections. This could not be further from the truth.

This is what LinkedIn says about it:

Connecting to someone on LinkedIn implies that you know them well:

  • They’ll have access to people you know
  • Others may ask you about them and vice versa
  • You’ll get updates on their activity

LinkedIn lets you invite colleagues, classmates, friends and business partners without entering their email addresses.

However, recipients can indicate that they don’t know you. If they do, you’ll be asked to enter an email address with each future invitation.

Here are a few reasons why you should only connect to those you KNOW, TRUST and CAN RECOMMEND:

  1. When you request a connection with someone you found through a name search on LinkedIn, you are asked how you know this person – colleague, classmate, business partner, friend, group/association or other.  Choosing friend or other will require the person’s email address before requesting the connection – again, to ensure you know the person. Most people lie through their teeth here just to make a connection with someone they usually don’t know from a bar of soap.  The reason LinkedIn asks is because it matters that you actually know the people you are connected to.
  2. I’m often surprised at how I am connected to nearly every professional person in my city or industry because we know someone in common.  If I see one of my connections is connected to someone I want to do business with, I can ask my connection to introduce us.  This is a very powerful feature as it gives credibility to both parties – like a real introduction by someone you know and trust to someone they know and trust.
  3. You can only get/give recommendations from/to your connections.  The same counts for endorsements.  Those you connect to who don’t actually know you will happily give you endorsements for anything – even though they have no idea if you actually have these skills.  This causes the whole endorsement feature to be worth less than the space it takes up on a profile.
  4. You see the activity of your connections in your Timeline (LinkedIn Home) and on the Signal page – if you know and trust all your connections, these updates are really interesting, keeping those who know and trust each other in business updated with each other’s professional lives.  If not, well, it’ll just be noise.
  5.  You don’t have to be connected to someone to network with them.  Networking is done via Groups and introductions.  Find a Group you are interested in, take part in discussions and you will get to know many professionals you are not connected to.  This could even lead to new connections!

I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion around the connection issue on LinkedIn.  Please help me spread the word – if your real connections are connected to people they don’t know, it will water down your networking experience on LinkedIn too!

Do YOU connect to people you don’t know on LinkedIn, and why?