Exposing LinkedIn Connection Myths – Part I

The LinkedIn Personal Trainer takes a stand on connections, and I’m unapologetic about it.

Before I wrote the book, I was a user – who saw the potential of the system, became very familiar with it, and found I could help others use it more effectively.

And no where in that process did you see the words “thought I could make money”…

Somewhere along the line, others saw that if they used LinkedIn to connect massively, they’d have a ready audience and market – and they’re right – to a point. But where is that point?

I thought my readers would like to watch along as I explore and de-bunk some of the more popular myths that are spread about why it’s better to connect indiscriminately.

Indiscriminate connections

So first – let’s set this up.

If you connect to everyone or nearly everyone that asks you to connect, you’re an indiscriminate connector. (and that means you connect without much care)

If you connect to people you know and trust, you’re at the other pole.

There’s a whole lot of ground between these two, and when I’m asked about specific connection situations, the answer is often “it depends”. My advice is that it’s better to be clear on who you’re connecting to – for your own benefit and protection.

Ground rules

My expectation is that this will get messy – and there’s no reason to allow it to reach a tipping point, so here’s some rules to follow.

  • 1 topic per post. I’m going to roll these out one at a time over some weeks, but we’re going to keep each thread contained to the topic.
  • Post new topic suggestions under this thread – see the first rule;-)  If you come up with a new reason why it’s better or worse to connect indiscriminately, throw it in here as a comment and we’ll get to it.
  • No personal attacks. I’ve been called “closed minded” for failing to see the beauty of the indiscriminate connection philosophy, but other than insulting me, what is accomplished? I’ll be presenting logical reasoning and all someone with an opposing belief has to do is present a counter argument;-)
  • Show evidence when available.  I’ll try to get facts in wherever I can, and you should too.  Anecdotal evidence is better than no evidence.
  • You have to expect that everyone else is using the same strategy you offer.  This is fundamental – if you suggest that people should connect and reach 4000 1st level connections, you have to be prepared for each of your 4000 connections to have 4000 connections.  And – every tactic that you use, they will use.

And finally, yes, my site is configured to require me to approve feedback – and we’re all better for it. I’m pretty quick about it, and can make sure everyone stays on the up-and-up.

Starting point

Here are some of the statements that we’ll look at:

  • “People can’t contact you unless your profile includes your email address or phone number.”
  • “Connecting (to thousands of people you don’t know) helps you get found.”
  • “Connecting (to thousands of people you don’t know) means you’re a thought leader.”
  • “Connecting (to thousands of people you don’t know) brings you more recommendations”
  • “Connecting (to thousands of people you don’t know) drives traffic to your web site.”
  • “Connecting (to thousands of people you don’t know) puts your updates in front of more people.”
  • “Connecting (to thousands of people you don’t know) gives you more sales leads.”
  • “Connecting (to thousands of people you don’t know) gives you more opportunities.”
  • “Connecting (to thousands of people you don’t know) gives you addresses for your database.”
  • “Connecting (to thousands of people you don’t know) drives traffic to your web site.

And as I said – this is not necessarily an exhaustive list, just some topics that have been in front of me lately.  I’ll happily add others that readers suggest.

Beyond the negatives

After this topic, I’ll pick up benefits that people who connect to those they know and trust get from LinkedIn that indiscriminate connectors don’t…

Interesting enough?

To your continued success,


Steven Tylock


  1. Steve, you set up for an interesting review.

    I have been using LinkedIn to identify potential collaborators, customers and persons of interest in my market niches. I dutifully review profiles before I place them in a series of folders. At this point, they are very good prospects for further discussion etc. but clearly not people I know and trust. I am sure that others find themselves in this whole. I am now writing them either through LinkedIn or directly telling them how I found their name and why we might have mutual interest.

    I can sympathize with the people who want to source mass mailings from this kind of list because my work has been laborious — somewhat needlessly so. How can we speed up this process but still remain discrete and compliant with spirit?

    On the one hand you indicate the need to have a complete profile for others to contact you — i.e. to become their prospect — yet you seem to argue against using LinkedIn for prospecting. This onesy-twosy activity is time consuming and really leads people to assign the task to employees or contractors — not really the spirit of LinkedIN.

  2. Tim,

    Thanks for the comment – we aren’t as far away as you might think on this topic;-)

    What you’re doing is great – you’re using the search functionality to find individuals that would be of interest, further qualifying them, and then trying to reach out.

    My point is that you don’t have to connect to reach out – I wrote a while back “Don’t Send an Invitation When You Want an Introduction.” – http://www.linkedinpersonaltrainer.com/archives/dont-send-an-invitation-when-you-want-an-introduction/

    The point at which those prospects should get an invitation to connect is when you’ve established a relationship, have a sense of knowing them, and trust them.

    This question really falls under the misnomer that “people can’t communicate (for networking, building a relationship, or developing a sale) with you unless you connect” myth – so yes – I’ll add that to the topics!

    The last part about subbing the activity out is interesting. If we don’t cover it well enough in the series, remind me later and I’ll put it in its own post.

    Glad to have you here!

  3. Steve,

    As we have discussed in person a few times, I am often at the far end of the spectrum from you.

    However, I will qualify that. I do not actually agree with 6 of the 10 statements, which means that I agree with you on those 6.

    I think that some of the statements are true. If I am trying to track down a contact in a company, the more contacts I have, the more likely I am to find someone that works there. And the same can be true in reverse, for someone trying to find me (though Google probably works better here). And it will put my updates in front of more people. Last of all it will occasionally drive traffic to my web site.

    But as we discussed, my use of linkedin is different than most people. When I am recruiting I definitely find having more contracts better.

    Of course I am not saying that everyone should do things my way either. I am just adding to your discussion!


  4. Eric,

    Thanks for weighing in – Let’s see if we can take the recruiter perspective as a side bar for some of those issues.

    One difference – you aren’t suggesting to everyone that they should connect indiscriminately – just recruiters;-)

    Updates and traffic are included, so we’ll definitely cover those.

    Happy to be inclusive here;-)

  5. Your are correct, for the most part I agree that most people should not connect with just anyone. But connecting with a few recruiters or big networkers can make a big difference in the size of your direct network. That can have a positive effect on a job search (looking for connections).

    But before connecting with someone like that (even me) I would suggest making sure that the person has a good reputation. Check their recommendations or at least take a look at what websites they have linked to their profile.

    I generally forward requests that people make through me, though I am honest with the person to whom the request will go about how much I know about the requester.

    I will probably be fairly busy the next few weeks, but I will try to keep up with conversations and adding in the recruiter/HR side (or my side – as that is often not that same as other recruiters given that I also work inside companies and do HR consulting).

    The Software Scout

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