Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Want to Connect on LinkedIn? Tell Me Why, First.

This week, I got to chat with a class of seniors from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. As a part of their Public Relations Management course, taught by PAN Communications President Phil Nardone, they spoke with a roundtable of us younger employees here at PAN. We addressed topics such as nailing an interview, networking, salary negotiations and what to expect your first day on the job. While addressing networking, it’s only natural that social networks, particularly LinkedIn, dominated a portion of the conversation. It got me thinking about my own LinkedIn connections, and how I’m pretty picky about it. Here’s the gist of it: if you’re going to request a connection with me, I better know why.

That’s not to say that I only connect with people I’ve worked with in-person on a professional level, or that I attended school with. There are plenty of people out there that have interesting backgrounds and there are a lot of opportunities for us to connect on future projects. What I’m saying, is that if you’re requesting a connection out of the blue, make your intentions clear. Explain to me why you’d like to connect in the message. Was it something that sparked you interest in my profile? Did we have a connection in common that mentioned we might be interested in connecting? Is there a specific project or opportunity you’d like to potentially collaborate on? Give me some insight into why you want to connect. If you don’t, then I probably won’t accept the connection. 

That being said, there are many who argue against my philosophy. I respect and welcome those opinions as well. For example, there’s my colleague Katelyn D’Eramo, who believes in connecting with almost everyone she meets in person, via email or on Twitter. As she says, you need to connect with people you’ve met, worked with, exchanged emails with because you’re both in similar fields – you never know where the next opportunity lies or where people are moving in the market. Some reporters just connect to search for sources, while client contacts can jump from company to another company that may need PR. For the record, I absolutely agree with Katelyn in regard to connecting with clients. LinkedIn has also become a valuable resource for news. For people like me, it’s more about the LinkedIn Today feature that brings me news that’s relevant to me. For Katelyn, it’s more about following the feeds of her connections, what articles they are updating, and learning more about the news that’s most important to them, or where they’re headed on their next venture.

Is one way better than the other? Not necessarily, like most social networking, it’s about what you make of it. That’s my PR thought for the day. What are your philosophies for connecting on LinkedIn? Are you more liberal about it like Katelyn, or are you even pickier than me?

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