Exposing LinkedIn Connection Myths – Part II

People can’t contact you unless your profile includes your email address or phone number.

Yes, that’s where we’re going to start – the reasoning behind including your email address in your profile and more frequently right within the spot your name belongs.

It’s the one aspect of indiscriminately connecting that touches on your profile, so let’s explore…

How can I find you?

Yes, let’s talk about how anyone can find anyone else for a moment.

If two people have had a relationship in the past, they probably exchanged email – but certainly emails can get lost.

They might share common friends and have connections to those friends, but perhaps the friends are hermits.

So how about we just rely on the good old fashioned search engines – you know – google, yahoo, bing…

I know – long shots here – but how about Mary Smith – she really wants to make sure people can find her. What’s she to do?

Well – if Mary has some sort of business going on, she’s going to have a web site, blog, or twitter account, yes? And she might link to any and all of those from her LinkedIn profile under the website or twitter sections, right?

So – there it is – two clicks, and Mary can be contacted, and she didn’t have to call herself “Mary m_smith@someplace.com Smith”.

Too harsh

Well perhaps that quick expose on making sure people can find you even when all they have to go on is your LinkedIn profile is too specialized. Let’s consider some other common LinkedIn communication methods…

  • An introduction – yes, the grandfather of all LinkedIn methods, if any individual is two or three degrees away, you can ask for an introduction. Now it’s true, getting an introduction through three degrees is harder than two, but I’ve never heard of this introduction being turned down: “Tom, would you please pass this introduction request along – Mary and I worked in the same development group over at Acme Brick Factory – I’m looking to get back in touch with her.”
  • An InMail – yes, it costs actual dollars, but if you think Fred Brown over at Acme Software is a real prospect for your advanced project management program, isn’t it worth it?
  • Common Groups – It’s easy enough to contact Mary when we’re both alumni of Acme U.
  • Posting a Question – “Can anyone help me reach Mary Smith?!”  I kid you not – I once happened across a question posted on the Q&A section where someone was asking for me! (ok, it’s not very likely to work, but it certainly is an option, yes?)
  • Inviting to connect – While this violates the spirit of what I’d like to encourage, it is true that LinkedIn will pass your message along when you request a connection. I have received invitations that started “I’m sorry – I couldn’t find another way to reach you Steve, but would you be interested in…” (And I didn’t connect initially – but followed up to conduct some business together – and then connected;-)

So in addition to all the regular sleuthing methods, LinkedIn itself provides ways to reach people.

Having a clue

For me personally – if someone cannot figure out how to reach me, I’m not very interested in working with them.

“But what if Donald Trump wanted to learn how to use LinkedIn and couldn’t find you?”

Yes – that’s a realistic situation isn’t it…

If some influential person wasn’t tech savvy enough to find me, and didn’t have assistants that were tech savvy enough to find me, then I still wouldn’t have much interest in working with them.

Too much time

And this is the other defense often made for the advice to include your email address where your name should be – even if you can be found in 60 seconds, that could be too long for someone.

Ok – if some deal is worth real money, and my name comes up, and the other party can’t afford to invest 60 seconds of their own time to find me, how likely was the deal anyway?

And I’m not talking about an exchange where Fred Brown contacts me and says “Steve, let’s work on this deal” – because if that’s the case, we’ve already got some method of communication between us. (and LinkedIn is an awful site to have a conversation over – take it to email or the phone – please – but I’ve already written on that topic…)

Because I can’t ask you to connect

The real reason to suggest people lead with their email address – so the LinkedIn system can be gamed and connections made between people who have no relationship whatsoever.

If you don’t need to do this, you don’t need to include your email address.

At least that’s the way I see it – you want spam – post your email address…

Ok – your turn

So – does that cover it? Are there reasonable reasons to list yourself as “Mary m_smith@someplace.com Smith”?

This is where you get to weigh in – and remember – just on reasons to include your email address in your profile.

Ahh – after rereading this, I see I don’t really deal with the phone number aspect of it…  I’ll maintain that getting a phone number for someone that wants to be found ought to be easy enough, but clearly the reason for including one is not so that you can connect. Let’s hear some positives and negatives you’ve faced after adding your phone number to your profile.

To your continued success,


Steven Tylock


  1. Great post, Steven. A couple of other observations/refinements:

    1. If you haven’t been an indiscriminate connector in the past, and been flagged by other users and therefore by LinkedIn, you can send a connection invitation to someone you know but have just lost touch with without knowing their email address. Just be sure the invitation reminds them of the context in which they know you, and isn’t just a generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” I reconnect with 5-10 old acquaintances and colleagues a month without knowing their email addresses.

    2. If you’re really that concerned about people being able to contact you directly, make sure that one of your three links is a way for them to contact you directly — your Twitter account, a contact form on your site, a Jaxtr/Skype link, etc.

    Bottom line: Make it easy for people to contact you online in general and you don’t have to violate LinkedIn’s terms of service to make it easy for them to contact you once they’ve found you on LinkedIn.

  2. Scott,

    Thanks for mentioning those – I guess it hadn’t occurred to me to mention that embedding your email address in your profile does in fact violate the terms of the LinkedIn site;-)


  3. Yup — they’re even explicit about it:

    “DO NOT…Include information in your profile or elsewhere, except in designated fields, that reveals your identity or sensitive personal information such as an email address, phone number or address or is confidential in nature;”

    I’ve seen reports in some of the discussion groups about them approaching people individually and telling them not to do that. I don’t understand why they don’t simply detect it programmatically — it’s relatively simple to do so.

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