Not a whole lot of people seem to use LinkedIn, in my experience, so it may seem easy to miss the point of the social network. Unlike Facebook and Twitter (to an extent), LinkedIn is designed to establish and enhance professional relationships.
Finding a way to make a social network work best for you is all about personal preference. Despite the attempts of others to outline rules that every user should live by seems frivolous. If I want to follow certain people on Twitter, I will follow them. If I do not want to be friends with somebody on Facebook, I won’t. I believe if you start accepting and following every invite that fills your inbox, soon enough you will be drowning in social networking waste that prevents you from enjoying the platform the way you were intended.
Social networking is not necessarily about having the most followers or Likes. It is about joining a community of like-minded people and to soak in or participate in a conversation about the topics that interest you the most.
LinkedIn is not too different in concept. It provides a digital space for professionals to interact and connect with others in their particular fields. While there are no rules for LinkedIn, just as there are no rules for Twitter or Facebook, I do have my own views on how I would prefer to use it. While my tendencies may evolve over time from one view to the other, there is one rule I have always felt was a constant.
If you do not know me, do not assume we will get connected
One of the mistakes I think a lot of LinkedIn users make is assuming that making connections is as easy as it is on Facebook or Twitter. They will look at a list of users and click a Connect button, assuming or expecting I will just accept their connection request.
Unfortunately, this is something I have done before and a number of my existing connections have come without much thought. But I reached a point where I realized that if I am truly going to get anything out of LinkedIn it will have to be because I am establishing relationships only with those I have worked with or communicated with in a professional manner.
I have made LinkedIn connections with a number of those I have met and talked to on Twitter and people I know from high school and college. If I have someone come on my podcast then I will consider adding them as a connection. I want to connect with people who are aware of my work and might one day recommend me or write an endorsement because of our working together. These are generally people I feel comfortable reaching out to for help or to ask a question. These are people I can rely on professionally.
If I do not know you or have not worked with you, the odds are I cannot have that same dependency. Instead, find me on Twitter and let us get connected there first.
What rules do you live by on LinkedIn?
If you are on LinkedIn, what rules have you adopted for yourself? Share them below with a comment or feel free to comment on my personal rules. If you liked these rules and feel it is worthy advice for others just getting started on LinkedIn, or if you need to drop a hint to an oblivious user, please feel free to share this.