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LinkedIn etiquette

Until I became self-employed, my presence on LinkedIn was rather modest. Recently, my mentor suggested me the homework to double my 100 connections. LinkedIn is wonderfully accommodating; proposing me people I might know, and I justneed to press ‘Connect’.

In fact, it is surprising how many I know! And really great to brush up on old acquaintances. It’s like the first period on Facebook, here it’s just completely different proposals that emerge.

LinkedIn often proposes people I know but who may not know me. I might have heard lectures with them, read their books, attended a meeting with them or they might just be well-known in the professional networks of mine. Can I really ask them whether they want to connect with me?

Toast Rules

I hesitate when I consider requesting someone to connect who may not know me as well as I know them. Is this just me? I fear being looked upon as overestimating myself or my position. As if I try to make myself a peer to someone who is bigger than myself.

In the Danish Politiken’s Book on Etiquette, from 1975, there is an article about toasting etiquette at parties. It is not ok to propose a toast to a person of higher rank, but you can propose to someone of the same rank as yours or lower, it says. Quite comic reading which I shared recently at my cousin’s birthday. The rules probably have their roots in ensuring social stability and everyone’s safety, including preserving the power with those who already have it.

I want to act out of sincerity and not rules and I rarely let my hesitation stop me – at least when it comes to LinkedIn connection requests. At the same time, I am aware that the hesitation serves a purpose. It wants me to be aware of not occupying unnecessary space. That I show respect for other people’s time and focus.

The new ethics is more human

I’m fascinated by how etiquette and courtesy from my childhood is being replaced by a new set of custom. In the early grades, we should stand up when an adult came into the classroom. To argue against an adult was unthinkable. It was important to keep up appearances no matter what kind of mess was at the inside.

Today I strive to replace the facade with sincerity. I try to imagine the consequences of my actions on other people. I prioritize honesty, both for myself, my children and others; the kind of honesty where I express what is alive in me and where I am interested in the same in the other person.  I translate my thoughts and judgments of other people into my own feelings and needs.

Nevertheless, much of the old etiquette sticks. I wish I could add: “Well, only if you say yes voluntarily and with joy” when requesting LinkedIn connection. But isn’t that exactly what is implied in social media? In fact, I become happy every time someone requests connection of me. That’s what LinkedIn is about, isn?t it?


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