"Know and Trust" vs. Networking

July 22nd, 2010 | by Jason Alba |

I have a beef with one of the perceived policies with LinkedIn.

Supposedly I’m only supposed to connect with people I “know and trust.”

Both of these words can mean different things to different people – not even going to go there.  Maybe Bill Clinton can weigh in on what “know” and “trust” mean.

Let’s just assume it means that I shouldn’t connect unless I have some kind of relationship, and the relationship has some mutual element to it (they “know and trust” me).

So here’s my beef: if I go to a networking event and meet someone for the very first time, I don’t quite know them yet, and I certainly don’t have any reason to trust (or not trust) them.

I’m not allowed to connect with them on LinkedIn?  WHY NOT?

How do we get to a point where we can say we know and trust them?

The relationship has to start somewhere (that initial meeting, usually).  The relationship nurturing continues with further ocmmunication…. lunch, phone calls, email, sending one another news clippings, etc.

At what point can I invite this person to connect in LinkedIn?

MY ANSWER IS: whenever I want.  Because I use LinkedIn to HELP me with the relationship nurturing.

I use it as a communication tool.

I think it’s naive to think that we wouldn’t use LinkedIn as…. this seems silly to even write…. as a NETWORKING TOOL.

Of course, this is just my opinion… what do you think?  Is it okay to use LinkedIn at an early stage in a relationship, or is it something that should be saved until later?

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  1. 5 Responses to “"Know and Trust" vs. Networking”

  2. By Ed Han on Jul 22, 2010 | Reply

    Jason, I agree completely. I teach a regular workshop for fellow job seekers & am forever repeating to participants that LinkedIn is an *adjunct* to networking–not networking itself.

    When I am at networking events and am motivated to request a card from someone I’ve met, I always ask him/her if they would be open to connecting on LinkedIn. I find that a few minutes in that person’s company will definitely let me know if I’m interested in forming that connection with him/her.

  3. By Michael on Jul 22, 2010 | Reply

    I think that the requirement to “know and trust” stems from the use of LinkedIn as a referral tool.

    If Contact A finds Contact B of interest (maybe because of Contact B’s firm, industry, or skill set), then I need to know each contact well enough to comfortably introduce them. It would harm my relationship with either contact if the other did not turn out to be who he said he was.

    That being said, I think one’s connections should be people that you know and trust, *and* people with whom you are *working towards* knowing and trusting. Anyone else is just slack making your connection count inflated.

  4. By Tim Meehan on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    To me, this is the paradoxical thing about LinkedIn. On one hand, it has the power to connect me to millions of people across the world, any one of which may be in a position to help me (and vice versa). On the other hand we are supposed to already know the person we are connecting to before we connect. Doesn’t this defeat the object in some way?

  5. By Will Kintish on Jul 25, 2010 | Reply

    Word for word Jason you’re dead right. I do lots of presenting and training and as long as I know they have been in the same room as me I will assume there is no reason not to trust them. if it is a big audience I look around the room for an object and say if you want to link with me the password is (eg) 2 fire extinguishers!! And you know what? They ALWAYS include the word in their invitation!! Makes for fun!!

  6. By Scott Allen on Jul 25, 2010 | Reply

    “At what point can I invite this person to connect in LinkedIn?”

    For me, the answer is, at the point I feel comfortable referring people to them. That’s usually after an in-depth meeting, or multiple conversations in a group event, but on rare occasion, it’s after a first meeting.

    “At what point can I invite this person to connect in LinkedIn? MY ANSWER IS: whenever I want.”

    I agree in theory. If I were advising a new LinkedIn user, though, I would have to say that as a general practice, automatically inviting anyone and everyone you meet at networking events to connect could be perceived by many as being too forward. It’s not a matter of what I or any other social media pundit says — this is the reaction I see from many mainstream business users.

    Point is, it’s not just whenever you want — you really should be taking into consideration how the recipient feels about it.

    Which is why I always recommend communicating first and asking people about connecting, before just sending them an invitation. It may occasionally be an unnecessary extra step, but it’s never a *wrong* step.

    - Scott -

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