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To Link or Not to Link, That is the Question

LinkedIn is a popular business social network where people can connect for work related online networking. There are lots of philosophies on who you should connect or LinkIn with but most people fall into one of three main camps.

  1. I only LinkIn with people I know
  2. I LinkIn with anyone (LION)
  3. I LinkIn with anyone who meets certain conditions

Option #1 focuses on linking only with people you know or have met, a very short sighted option. What about people you would love to meet? What about experts in your field? What about people’s you’ve always wanted to talk to, share ideas with, or ask advice and opinions?

Now consider option #2, linking with everyone. This too is not a recommended practice. When exactly do you expect to require the services of a waste management manager in India? There’s no need to fill up your contact list with people who have no relation or interest in anything you do. Indeed, LinkedIn puts limits on their services so why waste them on people whose path you will never cross.

The third option is ideal.

  • Obviously, Linkin with people you know. Current colleagues will eventually become past colleagues and these are the people you will look to when you next need a job reference or a shared connection to an interesting job posting. And if you’re not looking for a job, you might be able to help these people fill their jobs.
  • Linkin with people you have met at conferences, or virtually via Twitter or Facebook. These people might also serve as job connections, people to bounce interesting ideas off, people to speak at your conference, people to write a case study with.
  • Even better, send LinkedIn requests to experts in your field you’ve never met. Just because you aren’t able to attend conferences in England or Australia or South America is no reason to avoid building relationships with mobile researchers, survey researchers, focus group researchers, or social media researchers in other countries. In fact, it’s good practice to chat with people outside your comfort zone, outside your company, and outside your country. Your ideas and opinions have been developed based on your personal education, work experience, and cultural upbringing. Imagine what you could learn from someone who grew up in a totally different environment. If you admire someone’s work, send them a note on Linkedin and say so.

But please, don’t ever do this

  • Don’t send your LinkedIn connections messages about the highly valuable and relevant services your company provides, without even taking the time to see if your services are indeed valuable or relevant to them
  • Don’t send generic group messages more than once every few months. It could very well be perceived as spam and people don’t like it.

And on that note, if you’re a market researcher, please do LinkIn with me. I’d love to connect!

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