In my Back to Work Confidence Q&A last week, the topic of LinkedIn connections came up. One mum said “I don’t know who to connect with on LinkedIn” and another mum chipped in “I’m never sure who to ask either”.
If my clients are asking about this, then I bet other mums going back to work after a career break or redundancy want to know this too. Which is why I have written this quick lesson in Who to Connect with on LinkedIn.
Before you start connecting, ideally you have already spent time on creating a positive and powerful LinkedIn profile. When somebody connects with me or comments on something I have shared, the first thing I do is to check their profile so it makes sense to get that sorted out first.
Who NOT to connect with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is all about the quality of your network. LinkedIn encourages you to only connect with people you know. The definition of who you know is interpreted differently. Some might interpret that as only connect with people that you’ve met in real life. Others will connect with people they have met via online groups or through social media. Others will connect with strangers simply to build their network.
Your network – your 1st degree and 2nd degree connections – is a reflection of WHO and WHAT you are. It’s part of your personal brand. Therefore if you connect with anybody that sends you an invitation, you are in danger of diluting the quality of your network. There are some serial connectors who only want to connect with others in order to build their own network. Or who want to connect with you simply so they can start spamming you. Ugh, really. Yes I’m afraid so.
Some people are uncomfortable about connecting with people they work with because they don’t want those people to see their career history or what they’re commenting on. I get that, I really do. However LinkedIn is designed to be a business networking site … it’s just like networking in a room but online. You wouldn’t not network with people at an event from the same company as you.
Be aware too that there are fake accounts on LinkedIn in the same way as there are fake accounts on Facebook. Be wary. Trust in your instincts. If somebody sends you an invite and you’re not sure, look at their profile and if you’re still not sure, simply reply back “why do you want to connect with me”.
Who TO connect with on LinkedIn
If you are going back to work after an extended career break or redundancy, at first you might think you don’t know anybody to connect with. Like the mums at my Q&A last week. Here are some groups of people for you to consider.
- Former work colleagues (don’t just think about your immediate past employer; go further back too)
- Fellow classmates from college or university
- People you know in “real” life
- Friends, family, neighbours
- People you meet at networking events
- People you get to know through volunteering
- Community groups you belong to e.g. running club, Pilates, your church
- Your business or confidence coach
- Active contacts in LinkedIn or Facebook groups you belong to
- People in similar industry or roles to you
Hopefully this has sparked some ideas for you.
What I want you to do now, is to write a list of all the groups that you belong to e.g. church, badminton club, NCT branch etc. For each group write down at least 3 names that you can connect with on LinkedIn. Then finally go and search for those people on LinkedIn.
Of course the next question that came up on the Q&A after we’d discussed WHO to connect with on LinkedIn was “where will I find the time to do all of that”. If that’s you, check out my post on How to get more done in 24 hours: 7 ideas that really work.
Want to learn more about using LinkedIn effectively? Here are some previous posts you might find useful.
- How to customise your LinkedIn profile URL
- 7 Essentials to Get Right for your LinkedIn Confidence
- How LinkedIn Works
- Why Career Break Mums Need to be on LinkedIn
- Join my 10 Day LinkedIn Challenge (free to enrol)