What’s your Linkedin Connections Policy?

Connections Count, but do you have a rule for who and how to connect with people on Linkedin? If I look at my Linkedin connections requests now, I have 21 invitations to connect and this is after today adding the people that I recognise or know well and I only recently caved in and added a load of those I don’t know in the last week.

I say caved in, as I am semi undecided on my Linkedin stance to adding connections. Many many years ago in my early adoption of the platform, I attended a business event where there were two informative and invigorating speakers who explained how to use this social media channel and provided tips and suggestions.

One of these tips was to be a Linkedin Tart, which means you connect with as many people as possible. The lady – I wish I could remember her name (I have since recognised someone that it could have been, but don’t want to incorrectly reference someone else) – talked about the 1st, 2nd and 3rd connections on Linkedin and whilst the person you are immediately considering connecting with might or might not be of use to you, you don’t know who they are connected with and who their connections are also connected with. She illustrated this by telling a story of a connection request she received from someone she didn’t know, from America I think, and she doubted whether to connect at first, but decided to nevertheless. Then a couple of months later a connection of this connection shared one of their connection’s post, which was asking for recommendations about her line of work, and because the aforementioned connection commented on this post it appeared in the lady’s newsfeed and she consequently picked up a massive and profitable contract from it.

At first, I wasn’t convinced about the Connections Tart advice and was worried about contradicting Linkedin rules that you must only connect with people you have actually worked with – although just checking now, this seems to have been relaxed somewhat. But Linkedin does say “the basic type of connection is a contact you know personally and who you trust on a professional level”

However, I soon adopted the tactic of being a connections tart. So, I started adding as many contacts as I could, I searched for old colleagues and friends, I added people who I met at networking events and I accepted connection requests from strangers in good faith that they and their connections would benefit me in the future, even though this part never entirely sat right with me – sometimes if I am honest I’d kinda shut my eyes to do it. And this strategy has enabled me to build the large bank of connections that I have today.

Then I started to get requests from countries which are associated with connection farming and unscrupulous activity and again hesitated about whether to accept the request, but accused myself of being racist and stereotypical, and was unresolved about my connection policy. Again, I adopted the shut my eyes and decide policy when pressing the accept or reject button – At the end of the day, what is the worst that can happen?

During this connections tart policy crisis I tried to adopt another piece of advice I’d picked up from a seminar in the past.  This was to message back the person who’d invited you to connect, saying something like “forgive my ailing memory, but please would you remind me of how we met or know each other”, however unsurprisingly they never replied to my message, and then I’d have an FOMO attack (fear of missing out) and resume my connections tart policy.

A few years later I got involved with the West Yorkshire Cyber Security Cluster and they made me more aware of the consequences of displaying your work history, connections and other daily activity online. These types of platforms are used by criminals to research their targets and gain information which they use in confidence tricks and phishing scams ….. well, if I was undecided before I was now totally confused. Could I be putting me, my business as well as my client’s, and the other people I am connected to at risk of cyber-attacks and other criminal behaviour? However, I believe that social media can be an essential tool for marketing your business ….

Since then I have been much more careful of who I have accepted, however every so often I have the voice in my ear saying, “the benefits of being a connections tart definitely outweighs the small possibility of cyber profiling” and I cave in and accept connections.
During my years of using and assisting clients to use social media, I have found that there is no hard and fast rule for what you should do and this is a consideration I take most of my clients through when we approach their social media strategy. For some it is much easier to have a decisive policy, while others can be as flimsy as mine, considering each on their own account and how the wind is blowing at that precise moment.
I approach Facebook and Twitter connections with slightly differing approaches, and one day I will write more about this and share it with you.

So, what is your Linkedin connection policy?