How to Make Friends (er, Connections) on LinkedIn

April 27, 2009 at 5:01 pm 1 comment

Carolyn HeadshotPenned by Carolyn

In the past few weeks, my weekly blog posts have become my soapbox to spread my thoughts on how to use LinkedIn correctly in the jobseeking process. Here are some additional guidelines, as well as some links to other experts who’ve put some brainpower into the matter.

  1. LinkedIn is your virtual Rolodex — and an easy way to store all those business cards you pick up. When you meet people at events, follow up with a *thoughtful* note and invitation to connect.
  2. Demonstrate judgment when requesting a link to someone or accepting someone’s request. As you may have noted in the past few weeks, people without said judgment are a major pet peev of mine, so I’ll expand a little here by including thoughts from Troy Janisch’s recent post on how to determine whether you should link to someone: Would I feel comfortable contacting this individual on behalf of another friend? Would I be willing to introduce this individual to someone else I know so they can do business together? Am I comfortable letting this person use my name as a business reference? Will this person know me if he’s approached by others who use my name?
  3. DO include a personal note. And get their categorization correct (ie, if you’re going to attempt to link to someone you’ve never met, don’t say someone’s your friend. It seems careless, if not a bit creepy.)
  4. If they don’t respond, relax. Don’t send two requests to the same person in one day (yes, it happens).
  5. Mention folks you know in common.
  6. Personalize. You waste an opportunity when you send an obviously generic note with your link request (such as addressing it to “Friends and Colleagues” — especially when I’m neither!).
  7. Most importantly: don’t use LinkedIn as a crutch. “Meeting” people online DOES NOT EQUAL knowing them. Go meet people in person (need inspiration? watch the video below from You will get much more value if you get up, get to networking events, volunteer, etc.

Thoughts from others on this topic:


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. George Kao  |  May 1, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Great points, Carolyn! I like all the posts I’ve read from you.

    A couple thoughts I’d add…
    1. More 1st degree connections on LinkedIn = higher ranking in search results = more likely to be found by your ideal employers, recruiters, clients.
    2. Merely having a 1st degree connection doesn’t mean you’ll have to recommend them or forward a LinkedIn request from them (to connect with someone else in your network).
    3. So with regards to your advice to “Demonstrate judgment” I would apply that to both *how* to request a linkedin connection (it’s OK to request to connect with a lot of people but do it thoughtfully) and *whether* to forward on a request from your network especially if you think it might bother the end recipient.

    Thanks for continuing to share valuable info on this blog!


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