This is one of the most common questions I get asked during my Grow Your Personal Brand and other personal marketing seminars.
Yes, having a large number of connections will be beneficial for your marketing, branding and business development. Your “connections” and database of contacts are valuable assets. Your contacts and relationships are important to you and must be developed properly. However, everyone is not a perfect connection and others may be inappropriate for you and your goals.
Many people have explained to me their connection criteria. Here are some common statements about how people limit with whom they connect:
- I only connect with people I know well.
- I do not connect with clients because I do not want people to see with whom I am working.
- I never connect with competitors or people in my industry.
- I don’t connect with my staff on LinkedIn because I do not want them to see what I am doing.
- I don’t want my employees to connect with a lot of people because this will make them targets for poaching by competitors looking for staff.
All are interesting points and certainly everyone has their opinion. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of LinkedIn? The answer is simple; just look at the company’s tagline: “Relationships matter.” This is so true and we also know that LinkedIn is akin to a huge and ongoing networking event. If you look at LinkedIn this way, then you should expand your criteria for connecting.
I personally connect with just about everyone. However, I do have my rules. I do not connect with local competitors; if they are a PR firm on Long Island I will probably not connect, but if they are from Chicago I probably will. I look at all connection requests carefully and follow my specific connection criteria.
For a PDF of my connection criteria checklist click here.
Do I connect with people I don’t know? Yes, for the same reason I go to networking events: I want to meet and get to know new people.
In terms of connecting with clients, you absolutely should. There is no way anyone will know that they are your clients. If you are worried about losing clients because of LinkedIn you have a bigger problem. You need to have better relationships with your clients.
This is my connection criteria checklist:
Your connections are a valuable asset. On LinkedIn they are your audience. You need to connect and engage with people and this will increase the value of your overall network and brand. With a well-developed network you will generate more business and create opportunities.
By Bill Corbett