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linkedin-logoThe #1-with-a-bullet rule of social media, no matter what platform, is: be authentic. This does not mean that you should be an authentic idiot, however.

I had a troubling conversation on LinkedIn a few days ago, with someone who sent me a connection request. I’m a pretty open networker – my only rules are

  • Have a profile picture of your face, not a logo
  • Be a human, with a name, not a brand or a handle
  • Be able to answer the “how did I wind up on your LinkedIn radar?” question effectively
  • All three of those guarantee acceptance. Any one of them missing, “ignore”.

    So when a woman in my geographic zone sent me an invitation to connect, and had cleared the first 2 of the above rules, I pinged her with a “how” – and that’s where things got interesting. She told me that she was looking for a job, and a recruiter told her that she wouldn’t even get a look if she didn’t have at least 150 LinkedIn connections.

    In other words, the recruiter was basically telling her that she needed to gather up connections quickly. Which is, in my estimation, really rotten advice. I’m not against the idea of a dedicated campaign to make meaningful professional connection on LinkedIn, or any other social media network. I do, however, question a recruiter instructing a potential client to essentially spam her address book. That’s likely to get you the LinkedIn bitch-slap, which can be as painful as being kicked off LinkedIn, and at a minimum highly circumscribed on the invitation-to-connect front.

    Authentic connection takes time. I’ve been on LinkedIn since 2004, and my connection count of 1,000+ is a testament to my approach of authenticity. I don’t meet all my connections face-to-face – wish I could, since some of them are in Asia and Africa, meaning that meetings would satisfy my travel jones as well as my deepen-the-connection mantra. But I manage to keep tabs on the people I’m linked to, and have picked up both great business intel and actual booked business using my “authenticity” rules.

    If you’re a recruiter, or work in HR in any way, be aware of the rules you require those you work with to live by. Focus less on number of connections, and more on how meaningful a candidate’s connections are.

    Ragan.com, a must-read site for anyone interested in business storytelling, had a terrific post last week by Jure Klepic, 12 LinkedIn gaffes to avoid at all costs. It’s both funny and informative. Give it a read.

    That’s my story, and I’m stickin’  to it …

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