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.

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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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