LinkedIn in is a terrific way to develop your network of contacts, let people know about your skills and experience and establish your credentials in your particular field. I am a big fan of it.

Trust is a big part of any network, ditto for LinkedIn. I, for example, have been approached by people unknown to be because they knew a couple of people that I was connected with and took that as a token of credibility.

I did actually know these people and they knew me, which meant that I could do business with our mutual acquaintance.

This business would not have happened, if, when our new client checked with his friends and their response was something like “No idea who she is, she just sent an invitation to LinkedIn out of the blue and said that we were friends! I didn’t want to be too rude, so I just accepted”

In this scenario, I would appear to be desperate, dishonest and possibly deluded!

If you are going to invite someone on LinkedIn to join your network and you don’t actually know them (which is not recommended, but I can understand that it happens on occasion, when you share a group or are interested in a person’s blogs or point of view), here’s my advice to you:

1. Be honest. Always. If you don’t know the person, say “We haven’t met, but I’d like to connect with you because…”. Saying that you are friends when you’re not is a lie. Lying has a hugely negative effect on how you’re perceived by the person you’re trying to  connect with.

2. Be polite. You’d be surprised at the impression you can make by simply using “please” and “thank you”

3. Give a reason. People are much more likely to help you out when you tell them why. For example, “We’re in the XXX group togther and I like reading your comments there” or “I’m in the XXX business and deal with issues in your industry all the time, our connection might be useful in the future”

I’ve even had a very polite student asking to connect on LinkedIn stating that she simply wanted to build up her connections and was just starting out.

The quality of your connections on LinkedIn is much more important than the quantity – make sure that you represent yourself as well as you can to build strong and valuable relationships.

Happy Linking!

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