LinkedIn - the semantics of connection
November 21, 2010 5:10 PM   Subscribe

Tell me when and why you connect to people on LinkedIn ?

I'm relatively new to LinkedIn and I'm bit puzzled by it !

How well do you know someone and/or their work before connecting (or asking to connect to them) ?

One example. I go to a conference, I meet a bunch of people some of whom work in fields that interest me - is connecting to them the accepted thing to do ?

Another example. To start with I connected only to people I'd actually met and worked with. Then I had a bit of contact with someone via forums etc and they asked to connect to me. I was happy to but I'm curious if other people generally restrict their connections to people you've actually met ?

I realise this stuff is determined by culture and personality so I'd be interested to hear different points of view (maybe with an indication of your work culture/personality ?)
posted by southof40 to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have not accepted some random folks who post on a profession-related forum where I post and sent me requests.
I did accept a few colleagues, whom I don't know personally, but who I easily could Google and verify.
Otherwise, I respond positively to requests from friends, colleagues and former classmates (most of those flock however on Facebook, and I don't).
I don't put out any requests myself. The Networking game is unhealthy if you act the fly; act the spider, accept the slowness.
posted by Namlit at 5:30 PM on November 21, 2010

I generally connect with anyone I meet in a business context. LinkedIn has traditionally been used as a way to connect with your team (eg, people working in a distributed team in a multinational company), a way to keep in contact with "alumni" from that team (eg, people move on), and just as a way to keep in contact with professional contacts as they change jobs - LinkedIn really has replaced the business card.

Like everything else these days, LinkedIn is a bit of a game, that is, it's about "collecting" contacts. We've become socialized to connecting with almost anyone. This sort of behaviour results in large social networks, and LinkedIn has become really useful for recruiters.

Recruiters can search thousands or even hundreds of thousands of professionals on LinkedIn to identify potential candidates.

There's also LinkedIn advertising. While nowhere near as sophisticated as Google's ad platform, LinkedIn ads allow advertisers to dial in to a specific demographic in a B2B context.

This doesn't exactly answer your question, but if you offer a B2B professional service (eg, sales and marketing strategy), you can leverage your network to drum up business. A really good way is to participate in groups, and answer questions in these groups.

In short, it's always a good idea to connect on LinkedIn with people you meet (unless they are crazy). The connection doesn't mean much (and I wouldn't worry about begging for recommendations), but it's useful for building community. Maybe your LinkedIn contacts will need help with something sometime, and you will be there to provide free advice.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:33 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think with LinkedIn the idea is to only link to people whose work you know and feel positive about. It's not supposed to be like Facebook, even though it seems to be turning into that. If you have linked to them, their reputations may reflect onto you. Before linking to anyone, ask yourself if you want their name associated with yours.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:37 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'll connect on LinkedIn with people I know personally and only then when I am familiar with their work and professional reputation. I've really only 'rejected' one person I've known personally - a guy I used to work with, who had himself listed on LinkedIn as "Dr. Firstname Lastname", who's profile mentioned that he'd 'earned' his PhD. from a notorious mail-order diploma mill.

I've also unconnected from someone after he was arrested for child molestation, so as to avoid my name being connected with his while his case is being resolved.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:03 PM on November 21, 2010

I'm linked to personal friends, former coworkers, my family, and classmates. Weirdly, no one at my job is apparently on LinkedIn (a ton are on Facebook.) I have a very liberal LinkedIn adding policy, but I never send requests (I probably will once I start my MBA program.)
posted by SMPA at 6:20 PM on November 21, 2010

Anyone I see in a face to face meeting (but not everyone, I probably should be better)
I don't link to some people if I want to keep my companies relationship with their company confidential.
Folks I meet virtual sometimes I link to if we run in the same circles and really should meet someday.

I try not to link to headhunters or people like that except in rare cases.

I see no downside in linking to someone who is really in your possible area of working.
You can always unlink them.

Just like on Facebook, don't be 'That Guy' when it comes to linking to everyone or oversharing or over leveraging your network
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:43 PM on November 21, 2010

- Though I'm fairly selective about whom I add to Facebook, I add people to LinkedIn extremely promiscuously: basically, I add anyone I either
.....a) like personally OR
.....b) suspect has a reasonable chance of becoming at all influential
..........i) in the world,
..........ii) in the field, or
..........iii) among potential clients.

- When I was angling to impress a firm I wanted to join, I carpet-bombed LinkedIn with connection requests to just about everyone I met there, in hopes of putting my name in front of people (or at least getting them asking one another who I was). (I got the job, though I have no idea whether this made any difference.)

In short, my use of LinkedIn is about neither socializing nor high ideals: instead, I view it as a boring but unfortunately-necessary part of my job.
posted by foursentences at 6:55 PM on November 21, 2010

I accept linkedin contacts from a lot of people: friends, former coworkers, and complete strangers, although first I check out their profile and description to see if they are at least in the same area work wise.

My industry may be very different, though. I am an independent freelancer with a specialized niche (medical writing, and it is even more specialized than that) and people are usually looking for my background, and these anony contacts have turned into 1/3 to ¼ of my work per year, and they have been great clients for me.

At this point, headhunters, recruiters, and HR people contact me several times a day to a month to try to linkin with me, too. I usually do not accept these connections, but will occasionally accept one (someone that I have worked with before), …I occasionally accept an HR person, because one or two of these connections turned into projects for me, too.

You can also limit your contacts and not share their contact names and emails. I do this mainly to protect my contacts for the occasional times that I do accept a head hunter, HR person, etc. – I don’t want everyone to be bothered by some of the very aggressive ones who may try to go through your list (and yes, some will).

I’m not really worried if other people see other names connected to me and think “oh no! how could they connect with that person?!” Who has time to go through the other person’s contacts? If they do, it is not a client and it doesn’t matter. It is an easy way for me to get new work in a very passive manner. Also, if you don't share your contact list, no one else can see who these people are.
posted by Wolfster at 7:04 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

-Co-workers I've had positive work experiences with
-Consultants and vendors I've had repeated positive experiences with
-Peers I've had multiple interactions and conversations with
posted by graftole at 7:08 PM on November 21, 2010

Like ThatCanadianGirlI'm fussy about the people with whom I connect. People I think are fools or not interesting, I ignore. Linkedin is probably not supposed to be that way but I cannot bring myself to connect with people I don't respect.
posted by jet_silver at 7:25 PM on November 21, 2010

I was going to add that I do not connect with complete strangers, unless they are in the same general business that I am in, and they generally are someone I would spend 30 minutes over coffee with.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:26 PM on November 21, 2010

People move around a lot in my industry (software) so LinkedIn is really useful for keeping track of where your ex-coworkers and friends have landed. When I got laid off a few years ago, it was really handy to be able to ping people and say "hey is your company hiring?". It's like two or three times easier to get a job if you know someone in the group that you're interviewing for so it's worth the trouble of keeping track of people you've worked with.
posted by octothorpe at 7:32 PM on November 21, 2010

Interestingly the last job I applied for (software developer) requested a linked in profile in the application process.
posted by the noob at 8:06 PM on November 21, 2010

Facebook is for social networking. LinkedIn is for professional networking.

I connect with people I've worked with directly, or at least been friendly with at the company. It satisfies a minor curiosity about what people are up to as careers move on. But mainly it can be useful when you're looking at new job opportunities and a) have a need for a list of professional references, or b) are researching and discover that someone you know knows someone that works there sort of thing, or c) change your status to 'looking for work' to give people you know a heads-up in case they know of any openings they can recommend you for.

Leaving and receiving 'recommendations' for/from people in your network is also good. It shows anyone doing a little web research on you that there are actually people that vouch for your work. Kind of a pre-reference check.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 11:39 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I send LinkedIn requests to people I've worked with a little or a lot. I've accepted requests from team members that I didn't have much interaction with, simply because I saw no reason to turn them down.

I've sent requests to, and been accepted by: an acting coach, some people I work with often in a professional networking group, a guy I worked with a bit on a major research project. I left dozens of people unrequested and unlinked, though.

I also accepted a request from someone who's part of the aforementioned professional networking group after meeting them only once - again, I could see no reason to say no so I said yes.

I've unlinked: a former supervisor who flung some serious professional misconduct in my direction. I doubt he noticed until a long time later, as he had tens of contacts but rarely logged in.

I thought about unlinking a former colleague who had me convinced he was a great guy for a long time, but who then (as far as I can discern) took a pick-up artist approach to what was supposed to be a professional networking situation, and who has since been in inappropriate and public pursuit of female attention through his social networks. I think his days are numbered as far as credibility is concerned - but still, credit where it's due, I did work with the guy and he was supportive according to his lights. In the end I decided to take a sleeping-dogs-lie approach. The same for another former colleague who seemed to be casting himself as Dr Horrible to this guy's Captain Hammer (with me as Felicia Day, and we all know what happened to her).

My point being, even working with someone for a long time can give you a misleading idea of their character. So despite accepting a couple of requests out of left field, I'm nonetheless very cautious about who I add to my network. You have to plan all the way through to the end and consider what you'll do if you have to unlink someone.
posted by tel3path at 1:10 AM on November 22, 2010

I'm a scientist and I connect with current and former coworkers with whom I have a positive relationship. I currently work in academia but was in industry (biotech) in the past so I like to keep both of those connections active, as people do tend to move around a bit. I do accept invites from friends and family in other fields but I don't seek them out as I do try to keep it as a primarily professional network. I do occasionally correspond via email with people in my field whom I've never met in person, and I would think fine to request or accept them (but have never done so). Personally, I never request or accept someone whom I had never met/interacted with, even if he or she was at my same organization. In terms of conferences, I've never added anyone I've met at one (usually we would just exchange email addresses) but if I did, I would definitely include a message like "Hi, I'm emd373- I met you last week at conference Z and enjoyed your talk on Project K." However, in my field LinkedIn isn't used all that much. Socially, I'm very outgoing, but professionally I am a bit more reserved. I wouldn't reach out to someone I don't know well for the sole purpose of networking, but if I have a specific reason for contacting someone (I want to borrow your cell line, are you interested in collaboration on an upcoming project, could you give me some help with an assay you published, etc), I email them directly and have found that people are generally quite receptive.
However, in terms of adding people, I've noticed that some people sign up to LinkedIn but don't really ever use it- I wouldn't bother adding someone who has less that 15 connections unless I knew them and they requested me.
posted by emd3737 at 2:35 AM on November 22, 2010

I'll link with anybody on LinkedIn, and here is why. Every time you add a connection your network gets larger. If you connect with somebody with 400 connections, you now have 400 new 2nd degree connections. The next time you are job hunting that network of 1 million plus people that you have created may be very useful. Not so much in a spam your resume to all of them sense, but in a "who do I know that works at IBM sense." Even if you've never met John Smith at IBM personally, the person you do know that knows him can facilitate an introduction and possibly get you the "in" you need.

It works the other way too. The more connected you are the more likely that you will come up in some recruiters search.
posted by COD at 6:21 AM on November 22, 2010

My LinkedIn is pretty much co-workers, clients, and people I meet at airport bars.
posted by smackfu at 8:01 AM on November 22, 2010

I'm picky about who I link to: I stick with former co-workers who I would recommend (or whose recommendation I would appreciate); some college friends/classmates; and family.

I am also linked to a few people who I have freelanced with/for, as well, but I consider them in the first group.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:17 AM on November 22, 2010

« Older Two guys in the woods looking for viral video...   |   lets make sexy time sexier Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.