During the sign up process, LinkedIn will ask for a peek at your e-mail contact list. This is one of the easiest ways to see the public profiles of everyone you know on LinkedIn and if you feel comfortable with their privacy statement, you should do it. It the fastest way to populate your network. It also brings up an important area for caution with LinkedIn: who you network with.
Keeping in touch with someone isn’t a good enough reason to be connected on LinkedIn – a LinkedIn connection implies a higher level of familiarity and associates you with the work quality of your connection. If you don’t know that you want to be associated with someone professionally, you shouldn’t connect with them on LinkedIn.
Good contacts include:
- Work colleagues
- Supervisors and direct reports
- Contacts made during networking events
- Industry colleagues
Network with caution:
- Grade school friends
- College buddies
- Friday night drinking buddies
This isn’t Facebook. Who you connect with on LinkedIn reflects on you as an employee. While Tim from college may have been the guy you wanted with you for a long night of shenanigans, he might not be the guy you want to be professionally associated with. Similarly, Sarah from middle school who you haven’t talked to since you graduated, but are totally friends with on Facebook is not an ideal LinkedIn connection. Unless you can be sure of the quality of someone’s work, don’t connect through LinkedIn.
Once you’ve created your LinkedIn account, make sure to optimize it to get the most out of your LinkedIn experience. You may also be interested in getting and giving LinkedIn recommendations to get the most out of LinkedIn during your job search.