What do you do when Joe Schmoe wants to add you to his LinkedIn network, but you don’t know Joe? Some would say, “I accept Joe” right away, as a means to increase the size of their own personal network. Others might check out his profile, and then decide. Me? I may or may not check him out based on time available at that particular moment or I might just delete the request. Sound cold? I don’t think so.
My LinkedIn network is important to me. I’ve worked hard over the past five years building up a network of several hundred contacts who I know; people I can call on to help me with introductions, referrals or leads. If I start adding people I don’t know, my feeling is it dilutes the strength of my network. At any time, I am happy to provide a reference on anybody in my network because I feel like I know them. I don’t want someone to ask me about a certain person and have to say, well, I don’t really know them, I just have them in my network. That seems pretty superficial.
In a recent agency marketing meeting, we got to talking about how to use LinkedIn. People obviously have different perspectives, based I think upon their own view on privacy and communications. On one occasion, someone mentioned linking up with prospects as we worked them. Personally, I don’t really want anyone knowing we’re working a certain prospect, so I purposely do not link up with them until they either become a client or choose not to. Why? Because, when you add a connection, that ends up in your newsfeed and everyone in your network now knows about the connection, might put two and two together and you never know who knows who.
On another occasion, a client mentioned to me that they wondered what we were up to in a particular industry, because they had noticed in their news feed that some of our agency staffers had made connections and joined groups in that industry. She was pleased to hear that we had picked up a new client and we were just strengthening our social media ties to the client, their organization and their industry, just as we should.
LinkedIn is a great tool. I think a person’s network is invaluable. Do what you can to expand yours, work it and make it work for your connections too. But be careful, because people are watching and you want them to, but you don’t want them to see too much.
What do you think? Do you accept Joe Schmoe’s request?