to connect or not to connect: the rules of linkedin

I’ve become really interested in the rules- both written and unwritten- of online networking, especially on LinkedIn. As I use it more and more for my job, I realize how incredibly valuable it can be…if done correctly. But what is “correct” is open to interpretation based on individual preferences, industry, and even generation. But I got myself into a very sticky situation recently (not unsafe but definitely uncomfortable), so I think taking time to think about the rules of online conduct is very important.

So here are some miscellaneous ramblings on my LinkedIn views.

I recently added a note in the “Contact Cristina for” section that says, “Please feel free to contact me here or on Twitter (@cmroman). If we have not yet met in person, please send me a personalized message so that I know why you are interested in connecting. Thank you :)”

I tried to say it in a pleasant way and that was the best I could come up with! I feel horribly pretentious writing this request, but I get a lot of invitations now that I have my new position listed. For some reason, people want to connect with a person in the recruiting department!

So when people I don’t know invite me to connect and they don’t write a personalized message, I can either 1) accept it, 2) ignore it, 3) click “I don’t know this person,” or 4) send them a message.

1) Occasionally, I will accept an invitation from someone I’ve never met IF we share multiple contacts whose judgment I trust.

2) Definitely the route I take at times. Intuition is critical, even (or especially) online.

3) I read an interesting blog post this morning about why not to do this. The writer told of a man who invited a woman, whom he’d met once, to connect and she clicked “I don’t know this person.” It turns out that she just didn’t remember and ended up losing a bid for a project because he was offended by her rejection. I’m torn on this- I think clicking “I don’t know this person” is a bit harsh, but at the same time, they’ve failed to follow the guidelines that I set forth.

4) Today I sent a message to someone who added me saying “Hi {blank}, Thank you for the invitation to connect. Have we met in person recently? Thanks for refreshing my memory, Cristina.” Slightly awkward but necessary, I think.

One tool on LinkedIn that is very valuable- “Get introduced through a connection.” When I was job searching way back when, I used this feature to call upon my network for their help. Most people were more than happy to help because we had “IRL” ( (in real life) relationship.

A commenter on a blog made a great point that adding people you don’t know dilutes your social network and can jeopardize your social equity. If a stranger asks me to vouch for them for a job, I have nothing on which to base my opinion. Thus, my social network becomes less valuable to both me and others. Likewise, if I ask a connection to introduce me to one of their connections, it would be a waste of time for both me and them if they had to respond back that they didn’t in fact know this individual IRL.


One thought on “to connect or not to connect: the rules of linkedin

  1. Pingback: a retrospect: top + favorite posts from my blog « Scintillating Simplicity

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