LinkedIn etiquette question

December 5th, 2012 | by Jason Alba |

Here’s a question I recently got from a reader.  His question is in bold, my response is not.

>> Is it appropriate to make connections with 2nd degree people on the lists of your connections as long as you have a group in common or they have a contact email address for you to use as the connection mechanism?

I think you are asking the wrong question. I don’t determine if it is appropriate to connect based on (a) having a Group in common, or (b) whether they have their email address there.  I look at whether they are relevant to me, in my industry, etc.

This is like saying “if I go to a networking event, I can talk with people who are in a tie, or who have nice shoes on.”   That might be irrelevant to a real relationship and the value you could provide one another.

>> If they are 3rd degree separated we have to ask the direct connection to introduce us of course.

I don’t know where anyone says this is so. And if they say you have ot ask the direct connection for an introduction, I say HOGWASH.  Again, it doesn’t matter what degree you are, look more at why the relationship should happen.  And, a third degree on LinkedIn doesn’t really mean “third degree.”  AND, who is to say the two people between you are real contacts (or, have a real relationship)?  To reiterate, I don’t think the degree of separation has anything to do with whether you should connect or not, and you do not have to ask anyone for an introduction.

>> However if they aren’t 3rd degree separated from me I tend not to ask the original connection to make an introduction for me. If anything, I try to remember to mention the person’s connection list where I found them.

I wouldn’t worry about it.  In this case I would say “We’re connected on LinkedIn through some colleagues” or something like that… just reach out to them directly. You can, of course, ask for an introduction, but you don’t have to.

>> I ask because I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the last few weeks from LinkedIn members complaining about people trolling their lists for more contacts.

Trolling for more contacts vs. looking for legitimate connections… I think there’s a huge distinction.  I’ve seen the spam on LinkedIn increase, for sure… if you are a spammer, or are not sincere about a connection, then you are asking the wrong person for advice.  But I assume you are totally legit and are growing your network strategically and with purpose.

>>I also see other connections who close their lists.

Totally different topic, but yeah, they can “close their list,” which doesn’t totally… close their list :)

>> Makes me wonder why either party is on LinkedIn.

A lot of people get on without doing anything more than putting up a junky Profile and wondering what all the hype is all about.  So many people don’t get “networking” in general.  Even LinkedIn has bad advice (like “only connect with people you know and trust.”  Could you imagine going to a networking event and “only talking to people you know and trust”???)

  1. One Response to “LinkedIn etiquette question”

  2. By Dan Leavitt on Dec 5, 2012 | Reply

    Great responses that I tend to agree with. But the best part by far is your point on LinkedIn’s bad advice. Why haven’t they changed that statement? Facebook changed from “fans” to “likes” and dropped the “is” from status updates to offer more flexibility. Isn’t LinkedIn contradicting itself here?

    The site suggests that I connect with hundreds of people I don’t know, then they want me to know and trust my connections? It’s tough to really “know” every connection on a personal and/or professional level, much less trust them. I think LinkedIn may be facing an identity crisis!

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