Can I Connect with People I Don’t Know on LinkedIn?

Posted by Pat Henseler in LinkedIn Marketing Insights

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In today's post the LinkedSelling team answers a question we get all the time...Can you connect with people you don't already know on LinkedIn?


Previously, the answer had been a bit more complex, but with recent changes to their terms and a new initiative, LinkedIn is opening things up...

They say it’s not what you know, but who you know.

I think “they” are right.

The connections you develop certainly determine a lot of the resources you have access to. That’s especially true for LinkedIn, where you can build an entire business and fill out a sales pipeline full of quality prospects. For that to happen, you’ll need quality connections.

This is the beauty of LinkedIn actually, that you can connect with anyone and break down barriers with previously cold prospects. In the past LinkedIn has been more than happy to let it slide as long as their members didn’t barrage their new connections with overly spammy messaging OR use automated connection request tools.But they didn’t exactly ‘embrace’ the idea of connecting with people outside of your network. That is changing....

You see what LinkedIn has come to realize is that opening up the horizons and speaking to strangers opens the door to new opportunities, resources, knowledge, referrals, and even more connections.

So I wanted to answer a question that we get asked often about LinkedIn protocol. And it’s important to note that LinkedIn has recently made a change to their terms and conditions that I wanted to use to illustrate our point of today’s post.

Previously, as part of their Do’s and Don’ts LinkedIn had a series of ‘Don’ts’ listed in section 8.2 of their terms including this one:

[Don't] "Invite people you do not know to join your network;”

As mentioned above, LinkedIn was pretty lenient with this except in extreme circumstances of automated connection tools OR for members that broke that trust by being overly spammy in their messaging to their new contacts.

As of the past few years, LinkedIn has made a significant change to signify their recognition of needing to network beyond just your current network.

Not only have they completely removed the previous line from their T&C’s, they’re now promoting a fantastic initiative to encourage LinkedIn users to connect directly with people they don’t know. It’s called the “Plus One Pledge” and is meant to bridge the “networking gap.”

Closing that gap will help people who aren’t lucky enough to be born into a fully fledged and verified network of people; it’s meant to ease the journey of those who are searching for connections outside their immediate network, even if (or especially if) they aren’t well-connected already. It’s about paying it forward and doing a kindness that someone may have done for you at one point.

I’m all for paying it forward, but there are other reasons I’m happy to see this change as well. The major one is that frankly, it’s just good business, and good for business. Doing so allows you to:

  • Take control your pipeline of qualified leads (more sales opportunities)
  • Expand your network (The closer you get to one good lead can bring you closer to the next - 2nd degree)
  • Share content (More 1st degree connections will see your updates/content and can share it with the networks as well. A side note here: LinkedIn currently has stronger organic reach than most social media platforms, so now is a fantastic time to take advantage of that while it lasts.
  • And finally, you can make connections that mean something.

When you are limited to people only in your immediate network, you are exposed to the same people, the same ideas, and the same dialogue. Moving outside of that not only allows you to find more clients and sales opportunities, but it allows new experiences and new neural connections. Even from one industry to the next.

It’s why we remain mostly open networkers - unless there’s a qualifying situation (ie direct competitor) - we accept most incoming connection requests. You never know who is in that person’s network that you get one degree closer to as result of connecting.

So to answer the question, “Can I connect with people I don’t know on LinkedIn?”

Our answer is absolutely and we’re happy to see that LinkedIn has been updating their language too. If you’d like to learn how you can make strategic connections with targeted prospects on LinkedIn as a lead generation strategy, learn how we’ve helped build businesses from the ground up doing exactly that.

Join us for a LinkedIn training on how you can build a network on LinkedIn and use it to fill your pipeline and book sales appointments by clicking below.

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