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Who do you Connect to on Linked In? Do you just link to people you know personally? Do you just Connect to folk you know well enough that you can write a whole paragraph on them? Are you a LION? A Linked In Open Networker who links to anyone? Which is best? How do you know what is best?
This question was always in the back of my mind when I first started networking on Linked In. It came to the fore when a hiring manager at a company I was applying for said that job candidates should try to Connect to their recruiters on Linked In. His argument was that it would help in the interview if the candidate has a better understanding of the manager. He also described a kind of competitive intelligence where you can possibly see who else is applying for the job by looking at who else the hiring manager has been interacting with. Good points, but I felt a bit uneasy Connecting to someone I didn’t actually know that well. I had to know about accepted practices and asked a Question using the Answers function of Linked In.
So after my research and conversations with Linked In users, here’s the conclusion: Connect to whom you want to but be sure that you are Connecting to someone who wants to be Connected to. Tell the person in the Connection Invitation why you want to Connect. Don’t just use the standard invitation. It’s bland and not very persuasive. If you can’t show that the person you want to Connect to has a reason to Connect to you they might click “I don’t know this person,” which hurts your reputation.
How do you know if someone wants to be Connected to? Talk to them. Message back and forth a few times. Perhaps you can just ask them then and there if you could Connect. Many folk state that they are LIONs on their profiles. Others say who they are interested in Connecting to. Linked In is for networking, after all, it would be a shame not to use it.