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Is LinkedIn the New Job Search ‘Small Talk’?

  • How is the weather? 
  • How do you think the Twins will do this year? 
  • What do you think of our President?
  • I’d like to join your LinkedIn Network.

Small talk – something we use to break the ice/silence the silence.  It’s almost a reaction for some . . . . we don’t know what to say but feel we need to say something.  We are standing in line waiting for an event to open; we are in an elevator; we are in the check-out line at the grocery store.  We use the weather or sports or politics to break the loud silence – easy topics in Minnesota (weather and sports) and everywhere else (politics). 

Since late last year and certainly since early this year, my business partners and I have noticed an increase in LinkedIn requests.  They come in from all over – people we have called about a search, people who saw our name ‘pop-up’ as a suggested connection, people we met briefly at a meeting, people politely referred to us by another acquaintance, etc. 

I don’t know what else to do – let’s ‘Link-In’!

LinkedIn has no ‘must-do’ rules regarding who we can invite/who we can link to.  We can ignore a request; we can also state we don’t know the person or mark the request as spam.  LinkedIn also has no set rules for personal use (assuming it is ethical use).  Each user gets to determine how he/she wants to build and/or use their personal (but business-focused) network. 

It is personal.

So many things happen through networking – we gather information, we share ideas and we get jobs.  Networking – it is the number one way in which people find a new position.  But is LinkedIn real networking or is it simply easy networking? 

Networks are personal – and if I include you in my network (by simply clicking ‘Accept’) on LinkedIn, there is an assumption, in my opinion, that I know you and endorse you in some way.  It also gives you access to people I chose to connect to (depending on how diligent I am in keeping up with my security settings/privacy settings).  Whether or not this is a generally accepted truth in the LinkedIn public, I have had people ask me to endorse them OR introduce them to someone based on a LinkedIn connection I have, yet with me having only a casual knowledge of the person making the request (usually NOT in my network). 

Getting to know each other.

My preference – coffee (or something a bit stronger) as a first step assuming there is personal, business and mutual interest.  As an Executive Recruiter, the interest has to be more than ‘I need a job and you are a recruiter.’  LinkedIn was, when created, a business networking tool. 

My preference – let’s keep it that way and get to know each other over time.  LinkedIn is not simply a transaction – it is a relationship.