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LinkedIn: Should I connect with strangers?

There are two schools of thought on LinkedIn. One is those who believe that they should only connect with people they know well. Their group of contacts includes only their friends and colleagues - people they can vouch for. They are not interested in including anyone they Don't know.

Then, there are the LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers), who want to connect with anybody - even people on other continents. In fact, some individuals have many thousands of first degree contacts. Who's right?

Both are valid perspectives, but you should know that LinkedIn is a much more effective tool when you have a big network. Here's just a couple ways that having a big network can help you:

When doing an advanced search, recruiters or prospective employers may enter a few keywords and search within a given geographic area. The results they get are prioritized with first degree connections first, then second degree, and so on. Having a large network increases the chance that you will be among the first people listed.

This is especially important since LinkedIn limits these searches to the first 100 names - unless the searcher has paid to upgrade their account. Many employers and even some recruiters haven't done that. Unless you are in that top 100, they may not see you at all.

LinkedIn status updates are overwhelming. LinkedIn Signal allows you to filter the LinkedIn status updates to find extremely fresh job leads, to monitor what people are talking about in companies and in your industry. But you can only monitor those who belong to your network: first, second and third degree contacts.


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