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Do Your LinkedIn Connections Pass the Favor Test?

Ask not how many people you can connect with, but why you should even bother, says Alexandra Samuel, a social media expert.

You might be tempted to build up your LinkedIn network by adding as many people as possible, but the real point of LinkedIn is to build quality connections. 

Perhaps you should try thinking of the social network as an introduction machine. 

"But that introduction machine only works if you are selective about which connections you initiate and accept," writes Alexandra Samuel, vice president of social media at Vision Critical, for the Harvard Business Review.

Sure, you can connect with anyone who asks. But that might make meeting the right people harder. Here, Samuel explains:   

"Yes, each search turned up tons of potential connections -- people who were connected to people I was connected with. But most of the time, that point of connection was someone I didn't know well enough to ask for an introduction.

"I wasted hours digging through pages of search results just to find the two or three connections I could really leverage.

"You need a filter to help you connect to not just anyone you know, but only those people who will be able to help -- or whom you can help yourself."

Enter the favor test. Before accepting a LinkedIn connection or extending an invite yourself, always ask, "Would you do a favor for this person, or ask a favor of them?" 

The favor can be anything from an introduction to supporting a charity, but by applying the test, "you can build a LinkedIn network that is useful and efficient in supporting any professional goal," says the expert.   

The point is to go from a hypothetical test to a tangible action -- the kind that will get you closer to your dream job. After all, isn't that why you joined LinkedIn in the first place? 

Last updated: Jun 26, 2013


Jana Kasperkevic is a graduate of Baruch College, City University of New York, where she earned a bachelors degree in Journalism and Political Science. She covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurship for Inc. Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, InvestmentNews, Business Insider, and Houston Chronicle, among others. She lives in Brooklyn.

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