LinkedInIt might seem odd for a professional adult to question this, but it’s a legitimate concern for many. At this point, most of us have mastered the use of Facebook and Twitter as sources of social networking. You might be wondering, however, how to navigate the somewhat perplexing combination of professional and social networking, known as LinkedIn. Should you connect with every person who’s ever crossed your professional path? Or should you only become connected with co-workers and clients that you know personally?

While there are no set rules when it comes to LinkedIn connections, there are some things that you should take into consideration when managing your account. If you’re only connecting with people you already know, then you’re not really using LinkedIn for its intended purpose. LinkedIn is arguably the most powerful networking tool for business professionals and it can potentially lead to new business or opportunities. Mark Williams, a consultant who trains recruiters and job seekers on LinkedIn etiquette, summed it up this way in the Washington Post, “If I was going to a networking event and I only spoke to people I knew well, that wouldn’t really be good networking.”

While you don’t necessarily want to exclude those you don’t know, you do want your connections to reflect your professional network. When considering whether or not to make a connection, look for the following:

• Do you share any connections with the person?
• Do you share any groups or professional networks?
• Is the person a client or prospect in your industry?
• Does the person work in the same industry that you do?
• Did the person attend the same college as you?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, you should probably make the connection.

But before you “jump the gun”, you might want to avoid connecting in these situations:

• The profile doesn’t have a picture. It could be a spam account, or it might just be someone who isn’t technologically savvy. Remember, though, that your connections are a reflection of who you are as a professional.
• You just interviewed a person for a position in your company. Unless you’re certain the candidate is getting a job offer, you may want to avoid this connection.

LinkedIn can be an invaluable source for networking and opportunities for business growth when you make connections wisely.

For more tips on networking using Linkedin, please contact please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at or 800-367-8367.

Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.