linkedin_logo The LinkedIn Team today sent me an email invite to check out their new ‘Connections’ enhancement.  Supposedly I was part of a group of specially selected people; I have no idea how many others were invited likewise, but hey, I’ll take it.

As part of my checking on just how ‘special’ this invite was, I did some calling around and it turns out that they ARE only putting it out incrementally.  I also only found only a few other posts out there by googling ‘LinkedIn Connections Beta’.  So apparently it is new and they are looking for feedback… cool!

As part of my intro I’ll be happy to say I am a LinkedIn fan (here’s my profile) and I’ve been a LinkedIn user since July 2003 – my earliest social network experience I think.  My network is not huge (248 connections) but I am active most days.  I will usually logon either to accept 1 or 2 connections a day, or ask / reply to questions.  Right now I also have 13 referrals from people I’ve worked with or past clients and I’ve recommended 22 other people I’ve worked with.   Not bad stats, but I doubt I’ll ever catch up with the likes of my friend Ed Nusbaum, who I think is now at 24,000+ connections and number 23 on the list at – Ed is a LinkedIn Monster!  Ed’s philosophy and mine might be different though – I know we’ve talked before about the difference between the offline and online networks, so perhaps not.

I’ve tapered off the feeling like I need to connect to people all the time and the impulse to approve anyone & everyone who wants to connect at LinkedIn or Facebook. Particularly after an experience I had last year – I received a nasty email from the LinkedIn people when they noticed SOMEone had declined my invited to be a connection, apparently it had become a pattern of behavior they frowned on.  I thought I was already good at connecting only to people who knew me, but in any case I’ve became very mindful of how I think a social network provider WANTs me to use their service – that is to connect to people I either really do know or to people who are reasonably close to my network of friends, like quite a few mutual connections.

How Do You Connect To Me? Now, if I do not recognize the name, I politely ask them how we might have met – if we have not met, I get some idea of why they want to connect.  Which is pretty much the way I use Facebook, Second Life, my various Nings and anywhere else too now.  Twitter is something different, my ratio there is far more people follow me (757) than I follow (488) – it’s my way of filtering the noise.  I ALWAYS look a new followers page on Twitter before I decide whether or not to follow back – if their ratio of followed vs. follower vs. posts is skewed, I may decline.  If they are local or a social media advocate, I will take that into consideration.

Verdict on LinkedIn Connections?  Two Thumbs up – I liked it… it let me look at my connections in a list view that, when I clicked on the name of my connection, I was able to get a small preview of their profile without having to wait and let their whole page load – very nice.  LinkedIn Connections also offers the same capability for tags, company name, location, industry and a pretty nifty, recent activities section as well.  I can get a lot more statistics and see the relevance of those connections more quickly. 

LinkedIn Connections a great addition to LinkedIn, one of the fastest growing social network out there.  Nielsen ranked them the number 4 largest social network site and the 4th fastest growing site with 193% growth from September 2007 to September 2008!   With improvements and additions like this, I can see why.