Promiscuous LinkedIn Connections and Your Personal Brand

connectionsPromiscuous Connections?

Yes, you heard me right, promiscuous connections.

I got the term from LinkedIn Director of Insights James Raybould. He was on a video talking to a recruiter who complained of getting endorsements from people he had never worked with and didn’t know at all.

James Raybould’s response was “You have promiscuous connections.” In other words, this recruiter connected with anyone.

By the numbers

LinkedIn advises you only connect with people you know personally. But when you first get your LinkedIn account, your numbers look so puny. Those people with 500 connections look so influential. It’s tempting to beef up the numbers and, especially if you don’t meet new people all the time, fudge the lines of who you “know.”

But here’s the question: What is the purpose of your LinkedIn profile? If you’re a business owner, it might be to become visible to prospective clients, partners and vendors. If you’re working for a company, it might have the same purpose, except that you’re representing your company. If you’re looking for a job, it’s to highlight your skills and connect you with people who might be able to help.

So you should decide: What is your profile supposed to do and who should you connect with that will help it serve its purpose? Probably that doesn’t mean sending invitations to total strangers in other industries, or accepting them. That would be promiscuous connecting.

I am an author. My book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers was published in January, 2013. I was recently on a book publishing webinar run by social media guru and published author Guy Kawasaki. Guy said you want as large as a following as you can get on Social Media. In order to promote a book you will want a large following.

Hmmm…. This makes sense. Does that mean that in some cases promiscuous connecting is fine?

What do you think when someone has thousands of connections?

When someone has tens of thousands of LinkedIn connections, can you go to them for an introduction?

What do you think when they are connected to controversial figures?

Here are some options

On LinkedIn, if you haven’t met the person either online or offline and you receive a connection request, search for a button (it’s very hard to find) that says, “reply but do not connect.” Ask the person if you’ve met before or if they can tell you why they want to connect. If they have a good answer, go ahead and connect.

What about other social media platforms?

Some people connect with everyone they meet on Facebook. Some only with close friends or family. Me, I connect with people I’ve personally met and ignore requests from people I haven’t.

It’s the same with Twitter. Some people follow everyone who follows them and some people who don’t. I use Twitter to promote my business, so as long as you tweet in English, the only language I speak fluently, and are not pornographic in your tweets, I will follow you back.

I struggle with Google+. I use it to promote my business, too. When someone “circles me” and I cannot classify their profile to put them in an existing circle, I place them in the circle called “huh”. As long as they speak English, I connect with them.

So when it comes to promoting my business, I don’t really care who you are as long as you might buy my book or hire me. I’m pretty promiscuous. But Facebook is personal and I’m definitely not.

What do you think of people with hundreds of “friends” and “connections” ? Do you think, wow that person is popular and influential or that person is promiscuous? Does having a lot of connections promote your personal brand?

What do you think?

This post is part of a new regular series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.


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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist


  1. Excellent and helpful read! I got a request to connect this morning from an unknown source. I left it in the inbox but now I know how to respond. Thank you

  2. Stephanie Abercrombie says:

    I practice safe connecting, as well. I’ve done so since the start. If I don’t know you or if we don’t have a shared connection, you won’t be approved. Good share!

    • Stephanie,
      All of this is personal preference. It is all about the people you associate with and the message you want to deliver. There is not right or wrong.

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