LinkedIn Friendship Status: Do You Have Room for New Friends in Your Professional Life?

If LinkedIn was your friend, how would you describe your relationship?

This is a question I’ve been asking my learners for some time. As a trainer and Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registered teacher, my professional practice is as important as the content I train. This means I like to trial different ways to draw out where my learners are on their LinkedIn journey. It’s this question, asking about their LinkedIn friendship status, that reveals so much about how my learners view LinkedIn. Once I understand their relationship with LinkedIn I’ll draw connections between their relationship status and their stated goals for LinkedIn to help them get better results from their time online.

What Role Can LinkedIn Play for Professionals?

linkedin for professionals

Importantly, LinkedIn is a business friend, because it’s a professional networking platform. In fact, it’s the largest professional networking platform in the world and most likely to be one of the places where people will research you online if someone’s thinking about employing you or working with you. While a few of your LinkedIn connections may also be your friends, there are more social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp to nurture your friendships. LinkedIn is where you do research, learn from others, build your connections, stay top of mind with your community and share your own professional insights. And for many, it’s also where you will find, or be approached about your next job or client. Yes, the world can be your oyster on LinkedIn!

So the question really is . . . . do you want LinkedIn to be your new best friend, or can you just keep LinkedIn at arms length and make the relationship professional? In my case, my relationship with LinkedIn is purely professional. We spend most days together. Some days it’s for 5 minutes, and other days it may be up to 20 minutes.

For some fun, let’s look at how some of my recent learners described their friendship status with LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a friend with professional benefits.

LinkedIn is not a social friend.

LinkedIn is boring.

LinkedIn is slowly becoming a friend I really value in my professional life.

LinkedIn is not a good friend.

LinkedIn is someone I say g’day to every now and then.

I’m sometimes close to LinkedIn and sometimes not. I’d like to better understand LinkedIn.

We’re friends but we don’t know enough about each other.

Decide Your Goals For LinkedIn to Get More from the Relationship

linkedin speaker melbourne, linkedin guest speaker

One of the reasons I like LinkedIn so much is because the time I spend on LinkedIn is normally time well spent and helps me build my professional community, learn from others, respond to new connections and share my insights. LinkedIn has helped me build my personal brand, playing a pivotal role in my community referring to me as the ‘LinkedIn Lady’.

If you have a LinkedIn question, people who know me or have read my LinkedIn articles or blog, will encourage their connections to ‘talk to Karen’. It is personal referrals like this that have played a key role in being many people’s ‘go to’ for LinkedIn. This is the opportunity for you.

What do YOU want to be known for and

WHO are you trying to influence when you are on LinkedIn?

Your answers to these two questions, which I do not ask lightly, will then inform:

  • the way you write your profile
  • the type of content you engage with on LinkedIn (because anything you like and comment is seen by your connections)
  • who you accept invitations to connect from on LinkedIn

Decide Your Criteria for Accepting new Connections into Your LinkedIn Network

Being connected with someone on LinkedIn does not mean they are your friend. What it does mean is that you probably know them and have worked with them, studied with them, know them via mutual connections, and, yes, some of them may also happen to be your friends. Importantly, being connected to someone does not mean that you endorse them, recommend them, or even like them!

But how do you handle invitations to connect on LinkedIn from people you do not know? I’m asked this question often and encourage you to develop what I call a ‘connection criteria’. As an open networker, I’m comfortable accepting invitations to connect from people I do not know, because I know that everyone I choose to connect with will know at least 300 other people.

Even though you might think ‘why would I connect with that person?’ if you do not know them, I think that’s a short sighted view of how opportunities can arise. I accept the invitations and rely on my articles and comments to help inform the new connection about my personal brand and how I may be able to help them on their LinkedIn journey.

I accept invitations to connect from people I don’t know if they meet the following criteria:

  • Headshot photo
  • 200+ connections
  • A few mutual connections
  • Based in a region or country I work with

Being connected with past colleagues is also a great opportunity for you to get referral business or job offers. When I run training, you’ll hear me say ‘everyone watches on LinkedIn’ and, in my experience, many of my past colleagues who’ve watched the growth of Think Bespoke from the sidelines (not necessarily ever liking or commenting on my updates, but by just being connected to me on LinkedIn), refer their friends and family to our LinkedIn and personal branding services.

Decide How Much Time You Want to Spend on LinkedIn

The key reason my clients get value from their relationship with LinkedIn is because they’ve taken the time to develop a focused strategy for why they are using LinkedIn and what they want from their time online. By developing daily LinkedIn rituals they can spend as little as 5 minutes a day responding to invitations to connect, reviewing and responding to their notifications and messages and engaging with content that is relevant to their professional brand.


I hope today’s article has encouraged you to consider whether your friend bank is full or whether you do in fact have more time for LinkedIn as part of your online rituals.