When it comes to social media, quality versus quantity must be considered. This certainly applies to LinkedIn as well. Considering that you use LinkedIn for business, you want to ensure that the quality of your connections is above reproach.
In all likelihood, you receive many requests from LinkedIn users who want to connect with you. If you have a strong online presence, people are aware of you and your business and want to jump on your professional “bandwagon.” Sometimes, people have a really justifiable reason for wanting to connect with you on LinkedIn and sometimes they want to connect with you simply because they are gathering as many connections as they can so that they can say they have a certain number of LinkedIn connections. You should think long and hard before you accept invitations to connect. At the very least, you should make calculated, informed, well-thought-out decisions so that the relationships that you share through LinkedIn are mutually beneficial and strong. There are some simple rules that you may want to consider following before you decide on accepting any particular individual:
Knowing the person
If you have a casual online relationship with an individual who invites you to connect with him or her online, it may not be enough for you to make the decision to accept the invitation. There certainly will be times when it is not possible for you to establish an in-person relationship with someone because you have certain limitations (such as geographic limitations). However, with that said, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to cultivate the relationship to the point where you consider them trustworthy, credible, and a subject matter expert in there are of expertise.
Having a desire to share a relationship with the person
If you are at the beginning of a relationship with someone with whom you share professional interests and you feel that you would like to get to know the person on a deeper level, you should accept their LinkedIn invitation (or extend an invitation to them). LinkedIn is a wonderful way to deepen a professional relationship. If you feel that you have a great deal in common and would like to be in a situation where you can both benefit from each other, go for it.
Having a mutually supportive relationship
If you have a relationship with someone who you are confident believes in what you are doing professionally and you, in turn, believe in what they are doing to the same extent, you should definitely connect with them on LinkedIn. You should have certain definitive goals in that relationship. As you connect on a professional level, there will be a time in the near future when you will want to exchange professional recommendations based on your respective work. The recommendation that you exchange will carry a great deal of weight.
Interacting in person
Once you have finally met the person face to face, the next thing that you will want to do is to learn more about them (not directly from what they tell you about themselves). You will want to investigate their credentials, background, testimonials, etc. It is very important for you to learn information about them so that you can get an objective idea about who they are and how they do business. Once you have learned about them, you can decide whether you want to have them as a connection online. If, after learning about them on a deeper level, you don’t have a strong sense of synergy between you, you may very well decide that you don’t want them as one of your LinkedIn connections.
High-quality LinkedIn connections are critical to the success of your business. Being able to say that you have a very large number of connections with whom you really don’t share much (or anything at all) really won’t get you very far. After the initial reaction of the other person feeling impressed by that fact, they will see that large numbers of useless connections don’t do much more than take up space. You want to make sure that the people with whom you share LinkedIn connections are of benefit to you and your business as much as you are of benefit to them and their business. Another thing that you should be aware of is that if you open yourself up to connections that you have considered carefully enough, you may be making you and yourself vulnerable to spammers. If the connections are not what they should be as far as the quality is concerned, you run the risk of their saying or doing something that might ultimately hurt your and your business.
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Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.
Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.
Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.