Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are tools that most companies utilize in some way to promote their wares. LinkedIn is a standard in business. It is the mainstream social-networking site geared specifically for enterprise collaboration. The focus of this social network is contacts and associations.
The question becomes this: when does an association hurt a professional reputation? At what point does making a connection work against the business or brand? An A-list actor might watch reality TV but not ever want to appear on a show, for example. Once that thread is in place, it is difficult to cut ties.
The Dangers of Over Connecting
Ari Lightman from Carnegie Mellon University states that the more people a person connects with on LinkedIn, the more impressive the profile, but it comes at a cost. Setting up associations with unfamiliar individuals opens the account up to spam or malicious content. That is one side of the problem. It is possible to ignore phishing emails and other forms of communication, however.
Identity theft is a real concern. A LinkedIn profile offers details of a professional’s life. Specifics like work history and other key data are something that another person can incorporate into his or her own story. Once the connection is made, legitimate contacts may be at risk, as well.
Reputation is a gamble. Who doesn’t want to have their name associated with David Karp, for example? Just making that connection is a promotional tool that can flow backward in a negative way. There is a lot of leg room in playing up something as little as a networking friendship on a social media site.
When to Say No
It is a tough call because saying no might mean closing a door on a potential client or employer. Just because an unknown name makes the request doesn’t mean that it is not a healthy addition to a network. The key is to get to know the person requesting the association first.
Start with an email to the address listed on the profile. This proves the email account has a real person behind it and allows for some Q&A. If the connection is an important one, opening up the lines of communication can improve the relationship.
social-media siteStay away from anything that looks questionable– such as provocative photos. Apply some common sense when the time comes to approve a connection on a like LinkedIn.