Five questions to ask before you connect

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LinkedIn has always been the site for professionals when it comes to social networking, but features such as endorsements and connections are very similar to the ‘like’ and ‘friends/followers’ features of Facebook and Twitter. The key to keeping LinkedIn ‘professional’ is to make sure these features are used in a discerning, rather than flippant manner.

Connections are particularly important as they could potentially provide you with a network to genuinely promote your career. It’s worth noting too that recruiters assess the quality of candidates’ networks rather than simply their size.

So before you accept or send an invitation to connect, consider the following five questions:

1. Which type of network do you need? 
A smaller number of trusted, respected friends and colleagues will provide a network of mutual career support and advice; a big network of shallower connections may be more beneficial if you want to promote a new product or service, for example.

2. How would you assess their profile? 
Depending on how active a potential connection is on their account and how complete and up-to-date their profile is will help you to assess whether they really would be a helpful addition to your network.

If they’ve invited you to connect, it will also help you to assess whether they genuinely regard you as a useful connection or whether they are just ticking the “big network” box.

3. Could you genuinely recommend each other?
Ask yourself if you know enough about each other to provide honest recommendations. Could you talk about them in an interview if asked?

Make sure you know what their skills are and how their experience or potential could benefit you or someone you know. It’s also important to understand what you can do for them.

4. Would you talk to them in real life? 
You may be braver online than you would be at a conference or cocktail party, but if this is someone you would never speak to in a ‘real life’ situation, like the CEO of an organisation, it’s probably best not to try to connect with them online.

5. How does your network already look and how would you like it look?
It’s important that you keep reviewing your network and the connections you’ve made so far. Who should you really be connecting to? Who can bring you closer to a certain person or company?

Try to form a clear picture of what you want your network to look like and when you’re considering adding someone to it ask yourself if they fit this vision.

Your LinkedIn network is a potentially very valuable resource, treat it with care and connect wisely.

Source: HN Global