Know. Like. Trust. Bull.

September 17th, 2010 | by Jason Alba |

You’ve heard it… you are only supposed to connect to people who you know, like and trust (or something like that).

Here’s what LinkedIn says, in one place, about who you should connect with:


Somewhere they used to say that you know and trust, or maybe that’s an urban legend. I’m too lazy to go look for it right now, but that’s what everyone thinks anyway, so lets go with that.

This Know, Like, Trust rant comes from a comment from a UK LinkedIn trainer in a comment on my blog a while ago.  He framed it as what “building relationships” is, but let me break it down.

Know. Will I connect with you if I don’t know you?  How does networking start – only with people we know??  Even if my best friend introduces you to me we still don’t “know” one another – does that mean we shouldn’t connect, or talk?

Like. Do I have to like you before we connect?  If I DON’T LIKE you I won’t connect with you, otherwise, I would connect so we can start our relationship.  If you turn out to be a rotten person (unethical, etc.) then I’ll disconnect and stay away from you.

Trust. Just like “like,” I don’t know about this yet… but time will tell. I will give you the benefit of the doubt until you lose the trust.  And then it is very hard to earn back.

LinkedIn says you should only connect to someone you “know well.”

What in the world is this?

Many times I connect with someone and hope to know them well… but getting to know someone well takes time and effort.

I need to start somewhere.  Sometimes it’s with a phone call, sometimes it’s with an email and sometimes it’s with a LinkedIn Connection invitation/acceptance.

Of course, who you connect with is UP TO YOU.  As I explain in my book, there is a connection spectrum – some of you are very open in who you connect with and some of you are very conservative… and many are inbetween somewhere.  I can’t preach to you the best way to do it but I don’t think the “know well” criteria should be a blanket policy.

  1. 7 Responses to “Know. Like. Trust. Bull.”

  2. By Julius Solaris on Sep 17, 2010 | Reply


    know them well? Really? I thought that was called Facebook. I thought Linkedin was meant for business and all the people I’ve done business with, well I don’t know them well. Actually I don’t know them at all and I don’t want to know them. I just want to do business with them, maybe get a beer together if we share the same office 5 days a week. But I don’t want to know them well!

    What about giving hints on how to avoid scammers, spammers, self-promoters, Ecademists etc.

    I love the reply the UK guy sends though (other than the Trust, Like, Know thingy – it feels like giving too much importance to the tool instead of focusing on making business). Reverse Spamming Classic!

  3. By Jason Alba on Sep 17, 2010 | Reply

    @Julius, even on FB there is a lot of “friend” connections of people who don’t know one another well.

    What is the definition of “know well???”

    Great point – I love this: “Actually I don’t know them at all and I don’t want to know them. I just want to do business with them”

    This is not a network for BFFs…. right?

  4. By Julius Solaris on Sep 17, 2010 | Reply

    Good point about FB – it is actually substituting Linkedin in some instances. I guess the new “following” concept is rapidly substituting “add as a connection” – truth is relationships are much more volatile online.

    My approach is “Can I do business with them now or in the future?” if yes->add if no-> “I don’t know this person” :-)


  5. By Tom Kenny on Sep 17, 2010 | Reply

    Although I’m not an open networker I will connect if we have a mutual connection or I know the person from some common activity. My hope is to develop a relationship of reciprocity and if a connection on LinkedIn is the first step that is fine with me.

    However, over the last few years I’ve obtained over 400 connections and I think it may be time for some pruning (aka disconnecting) of the folk that don’t respond to emails or say some thing like “I’ll let you know” when I ask how I may be of assistance.

    I know this article is focused on the front end (connecting) but Jason I’d love to hear your thoughts on the back end (disconnecting) of networking. Because I wondering how there could be any value to dead wood LinkedIn connections…

  6. By thom singer on Sep 17, 2010 | Reply


    I do not connect to anyone I have not had a meal, cup of coffee or a beer with (or the digital equivalent,,,, as we do now connect with people all over the world and face to face is not always easy). I have found that if you link to too many people you have not connection with you end up with a lot of clutter in your LinkedIn or Facebook. Now, “know well” is a dumb term, as it takes time to know someone well.

    My opinion is that fried requests are not a manner of “introduction”, as there is a permanence in putting you on my list. You did not propose to your spouse the night you met them….

    You would not go to Los Angeles, bring home the phone books from the area and tell everyone you have 10 million people in your network because you have their phone numbers (you can call all of them!). Why is a link to a stranger any different?

    “Know Like and Trust” were the name of the game before the internet. Now we all think (mistakenly) that we “KNOW” everyone (“I know him, I read his blog”). Thus “Like and Trust” are more important, but it takes real time to get there (you can link to people before you like and trust, but “buyer beware”!).

    Just my thoughts, I respect other view points (but find it funny that those who want to link to everyone with a pulse jump on me for MY view point).

  7. By Ivonne Rivera on Nov 4, 2010 | Reply

    I totally agree. I have received request in linked in from candidates that applied to positions where I work. I find it as a network tool for scope of work. Connect with Resources that will help me achieve a liason between individuals in my field.

    About Facebook, it just recently happened that I got a message to from one candidate following up on his resume on my personal Facebook. That was totally inappropriate. To which I replied the person that my facebook is not work related and that if he wanted and update to email me at my work email and I will be very happy to assist him.

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