Connecting with others on LinkedIn: why bother?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Connecting with others on LinkedIn: why bother?

You know why you’re on LinkedIn.

You’re happy with your profile.

It’s time to connect with others.

Why bother?

The LinkedIn free account limits you to seeing profile information for your first, second and third degree connections, plus those in your groups. You can get around this by using Google to x-ray into LinkedIn, but you will miss out on some of LinkedIn’s advanced search functionality. This is really useful for planning and research purposes.

4 key ways to connect with people you know

  1. Import your email contacts from your desktop or internet email system
  2. Use LinkedIn’s people search or advanced people search to find individuals
  3. Look through contacts of your connections to find those you know
  4. Browse LinkedIn’s people you may know feature (including your university and previous employers)

Connecting with second degree connections

Second-degree contacts are those connected with one or more of your contacts. If you identify someone you’d like to meet, view their profile to find out how they are connected to you. You could then ask your contact to introduce you, but think about why they should and why their contact would want to meet/connect with you. What’s in it for them?

Connecting with people you don’t know on LinkedIn

Should you even do so?

LinkedIn’s user agreement says no but results of a 2011 poll show lots of people do and thought is divided.

There may be very good reasons why you might want to connect with someone you haven’t met – for example a journalist or someone in your field who shares really good content. In fact, LinkedIn and other social networks are turning the traditional business development process on its head. Instead of meeting people and then connecting with them online, you can now meet and start to build relationships with others online before taking them into the real world.

I am happy to connect with those I haven’t met in person provided:

- they share similar interests

- or they share quality content

- or I’ve had a conversation with them (e.g. through a group discussion).

Ultimately, it’s your choice. If you do want to connect with someone you don’t know well, personalise the invite you send to them.

What should you do with your connections?

It depends on your goals, but LinkedIn is a great tool to keep in contact with your connections and to build relationships one by one. Simply connecting with people and then doing nothing is not going to help you grow your practice.

You might like to:

  • email one of your connections each week to share something that will be of interest to them or to set up a time to meet
  • connect two of your contacts every month who might benefit from meeting each other
  • like, comment on or share content that your connections are sharing that may be of interest to your other connections
  • share status updates your contacts will value

One of the strengths of LinkedIn is that you can see who in your network knows someone. If you’re looking at targeting CEOs in a particular industry sector then you can see which of them is on LinkedIn and who in your network knows them. This could really help with planning and prioritising targets.

When connecting, do what’s right for you and what will help you achieve your goals. Once you’ve connected with others, you’re ready to start engaging (phase 3 of my 5-phase process). I’ll cover some ways you can do this, next week.

What other tips would you share for connecting with others on LinkedIn? 

Image courtesy Salvatore Vuono at

Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant
  • Promod Sharma || actuary | blogger | advocate

    Thanks for these solid tips, Kirsten.

    Part of having a LinkedIn network is pruning to protect them. Some connections misbehave. For example, they might post too much self-promotional content. They might start connecting to your connections with your implied endorsement.

    I have a spreadsheet called LinkedOut with the names of former connections and candidates for exclusion. Beside each name, I have notes as reminders of the infractions.

    • Kirsten Hodgson

      That’s a really good point Promod. I love your idea of a LinkedOut spreadsheet and keeping track of things. Have you pruned many people?