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I’ve seen it one too many time…

“By connecting to people I don’t know, I’m expanding my network.”

“We can’t build a relationship unless we connect.”

“Before I used to have sand kicked in my face at the beach, now I’ve got immense muscles – and you can too!”

Ok, this last one has nothing to do with LinkedIn, but it is the sentiment that I’d like to debunk…

Connecting versus networking

Can we network face to face?

Can we network over the phone?

Can we network through email?

By commenting in a blog? On twitter? With text messages? As members of a mailing list? Passing notes in class?

YES

Why oh why then do I constantly see people giving out advice that one cannot possibly start or build a relationship without connecting on LinkedIn?

Connecting means something else

If you’d like to get a solid introduction, you need to be known by the person providing that introduction.  Failing that, you’ll get a variation on Benjamin Franklin’s letter of recommendation…

Dear Mary,

I don’t know John very well, but he seems to think that you can be of help to him, and has asked me for an introduction.

It certainly looks like this could be the start of a long relationship as you can quickly establish trust because I’ve provided this introduction.  Otherwise John would have had to look your address up off the internet and send you an email that would have provided no common footing for a relationship.

Please let me know if I can of any further help,

Simon

That’s a ringing endorsement if I ever saw one – don’t you think?

VIPs

And as I’ve written before – if you connect to VIPs, you can imagine how much they would enjoy contact from any random connections you make…

They expect you to be a gate-keeper, and by letting every person through the gate to connect to you, you’ve put all of those people one step closer to them…

(BTW – If you like this topic, check out the “Connections” category off to the right)

Stream of noise

How would you like to have random people asking you to take the time to:

Answer irrelevant qustions

Introduce them

Write a recommendation for them

I’ve talked with people that stopped using LinkedIn because they felt annoyed at a constant stream of this sort of activity.  I follow up by asking how they connect, and the answer is almost always that they connected to many many people – that they didn’t know.

LinkedIn as they like it

If you don’t need a tool to make strong, high level contact through your trusted network, go ahead and use it as a phone book and connect to everybody that asks.

All the big promotion oriented, “I’ve got something that you need” speakers, and shouters of using “LinkedIn for huge success” do that – and they seem to indicate that it does very well for them.

I see them with thousands of connections and amazingly high statistics.

LinkedIn as you and I like it

But that doesn’t work for me – nor do I imagine you…

There’s a finite amount of time available to use LinkedIn – and that means cutting out as much of the “noise” as possible.

Certainly – it still works as a platform for making new relationships.  But those relationships don’t have to become connections until you’ve established a level of trust.

Stories of over connecting?

It’d be interesting to have a few corroborating stories – have you dealt with friends that over connected?  (yeah – that’s it – you have friends who extended too many connections and regretted it;-)  Can you talk about it?  (I mean about your friends in the third person…-)

Just let me know in a comment below.

To your continued success,

steve

Steven Tylock
http://www.linkedinpersonaltrainer.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevetylock