Your LinkedIn Connection Policy

LinkedIn has become the number one social media tool for professionals. With over 467 million users, it has global reach and covers any and all commercial endeavours, providing a way for professionals to connect with one another in a way that was simply not possible only a few years ago.

LinkedIn is used in a wide variety of ways: staying in touch with university alumni and the diaspora of former colleagues;  for use in marketing, sales, recruitment, job hunting; and as a source of relevant and timely information, amongst others.

Many of my coaching clients ask about the choice they face between having a closed or opennetwork.

A closed network means that you only invite or accept invitations from those you know and trust. This has the advantage of protecting yourself from spam and not exposing your network form those you cannot personally vouch for.

An open network, as the name implies, means extending your reach on LinkedIn beyond those who you have met. The advantages of an open network may outweigh those of being closed:

  • You will be able to significantly increase the number of your first degree connections.
  • With many more first degree connections, you will have a greatly enhanced visibility and the opportunity to connect with second degree connections, thus extending your reach even further.

Additional evidence of the of the advantages of an open network is provided by Professor Ron Burt of the University of Chicago, a leading network scientist. His research indicates that having an open network is an extremely strong predictor of business or career success. 

Stephanie Sammons, in her authoritative work “Linked to Influence”, adds a further thought. She emphasises that sheer numbers of connections are less of a consideration than the quality, relevance to career or business objectives and depth of relationship.

Your current career objectives, and thus the way you choose to use LinkedIn, are likely to develop over time. That said, it takes time and consistent effort to build a useful professional network, so the time to start doing this through an open network policy may be now.

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