OK, you need to realize one thing: LinkedIn is not Facebook. It’s not Twitter. It’s not any of the traditional social media sites where you have the option of making up your own name and creating a fictitious personality that will get you a date with some dream guy/girl. It is a professional networking site that you ought to be utilizing to (re)connect with people you know or reach out to people who know people that you know. Too many people attempt to connect with me on LinkedIn without me knowing how in the world we are connected. I don’t hesitate to decline their invitations, especially after I text a friend who is listed as a mutual “connection,” only to find out that said friend doesn’t actually know the requestee either.
Folks, you have to be selective with the people you choose to connect with online. Some people who have hiring clout take these connections very seriously. Everyday I look at my news feed and there are notifications of new connections being made. If I’m connecting with someone new, I would prefer it not be anyone who could potentially be running a pyramid scheme or trying to start a company that doesn’t align with where I’m trying to take my brand. Guilt by association is not good for business. (And I cannot stand when people are up there using their stage names but trying to connect with me professionally. My headline does not say “Rock group manager” so it is highly unlikely that I will connect with someone whose name screams “HEAVY METAL”).
I say all that to say this: Know who you’re connecting with. Send a text to a mutual contact. If you have no mutual contacts, reply to the person’s request with a message saying something along the lines of “Excuse me, have we met before?” If (s)he replies that you haven’t and don’t provide a legitimate reason for wanting to connect, let the person know that you are very protective of your online reputation and say that hopefully one day you’ll have a professional commonality but at this point you do not see the need to connect. Keep it professional and show class but protect that online rep. It will make the difference between you getting a job and not getting one.
On the topic of LinkedIn, I would love the opportunity to take a look at yours and work to strengthen it. I am currently in the process of updating and adding to my profile but feel free to take a look at it, especially since it has already been rated by LinkedIn to have All-Star strength. If you like what you see and want some work done on yours, let me know and we’ll set up some time to get it looking as great as it should.
Make professional development a priority.