LinkedIn: Building a Solid Network

Are you ready to build your network in LinkedIn, but unsure with whom you should connect? Many people start out with this question because it can be confusing at first: When your profile is a blank slate, where do you start?

The first thing I tell my clients is this: How you choose to define your network is completely up to you. There are no hard and fast rules about what makes up a network. Your build it out of your choices and your preferences.

You might decide you want to build a narrow network, focused only on a particular industry or niche; conversely, you might consider everyone you’ve ever met to be part of your network. You decide the criteria with which you will build your network. There are many different types of networks and the choice of what yours will look like is a personal one. There is no right or wrong.

When you are debating on whether to connect with someone on LinkedIn, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Recognize that your link is inherently an endorsement. Other people may link to that person based, in part, on seeing that you are linked to them.
  • Is it appropriate for others to know you are directly connected to this person? Connecting to a friend or co-worker is a good thing; connecting to your psychotherapist may not be so wise.
  • Are you comfortable with this Link being public knowledge**? Do you actually know them? Do you like them? Are you worried about being associated with them?
  • You have the right to change your mind.
    • What if you accepted a request, but then decide you don’t want to be linked to that person? You can go into your connections and disconnect from them. This is a silent action. They will not receive any type of notice indicating that you’ve done so.
    • What if you don’t want to accept an invitation? What happens? You can click on the “ignore” button and the invitation will disappear from your inbox. Again, they will not receive any type of notice indicating that you’ve ignored their invite.
  • Look at your network from a professional standpoint rather than a personal standpoint. For most people, a LinkedIn account is designed to help secure tangible connections with people we know for professional purposes. Don’t be insulted if someone doesn’t accept a connection, and don’t worry about insulting someone if you choose not to connect with them.
  • Consider the quality of your links more so than the quantity. I see it all the time – LinkedIn profiles that are years old but have only one or two connections. Adding these abandoned profiles to your network only clutters your list with holes. Every profile should increase the reach and weave of your net.
  • Helping others connect inherently helps you connect. If a person’s profile is small but looks to have recent activity, by all means, connect with them! Encouraging them to increase their connections inherently expands your network.

One of the most empowering things about networking is that it is in your hands. What you do with it directly impacts what you get from it. Build your LinkedIn network along your own consistent criteria and it will serve you well.

**There is a setting in Linkedin that protects your client list so that even the people in your network can not see who else is in your network. While this appears, in many ways, to go against the whole idea of networking, it is an important feature for those who need to keep their client lists private. Examples: counselors, doctors, lawyers, accountants.

Posted in: