If you are a first connection to someone on LinkedIn and they message you with a request, you have a professional obligation to respond. If you don’t feel this is the right thing to do, then you should strongly consider leaving the platform because that’s what it’s for… networking, asking for assistance and giving help.
Let’s face it, most people don’t really know many of their LinkedIn connections. You can argue the value of being more discriminate in accepting invitations, but that horse has long since left the barn for many people.
Improve the Value of Your Network
But what do you do when someone asks you to introduce them to one of your 1st connections who you don’t have a relationship with? My feeling is that if we’re 1st connections, then you have the right to ask me for the introduction regardless of how well we know each other.
Personally, I value my reputation and I ask for a conversation to learn more about the person making the request before I put my name behind them and agree to make the introduction. This conversation serves two purposes.
First, the conversation gives me a good idea of the person’s background, skills and experiences. It allows me to make a more informed introduction to my connection and to put the request in perspective.
Secondly, it’s a great networking opportunity, where the two of us learn more about each other, and often we find other opportunities that are beneficial to both parties. This makes our networks more valuable.
It’s Why We’re on LinkedIn
But what if you don’t know the person in your network who you are asked to make an introduction to? I go back to my original point. 1st connections on LinkedIn should feel comfortable reaching out to their connections for networking purposes. In my message to my contact, I stress that I am making a request in the spirit of networking and, in addition to asking for permission to make the introduction, I offer my assistance to them as well.
The reality is that this type of request doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, I believe it is important to respond and to try to help in any way you can. But, at the very least, a response declining to help for whatever reason, should be given. It’s the professional and courteous thing to do.
Today, more than ever, networking is the key to professional success. At some point during a career, everyone will need to make a request for a contact through someone else they’re connected to. Don’t wait for that time to come to realize you should have “done the right thing” when that request was made of you.
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