There are many ways to approach making connections on LinkedIn. While we strongly suggest you connect with anyone and everyone, there are multiple approaches you can take. Social-media firm Social Media Sonar has identified four connection styles:

The lion. Lions are completely open connectors. They seek to increase their connections through actively sending out and accepting connection invitations. While I’m sure there are a few who take pride in touting the specific number of their connections, the majority believe that large networks lead to more opportunities.

The turtle. Turtles are the opposite of lions. Turtles primarily connect with those they know well. They see value in having a tight network made up of individuals they completely trust. Their networks tend to be highly selective and can be counted on to pass on introductions, much like a private networking group.

The hound dog. A hound dog is someone who uses LinkedIn to connect to those they know and those they would like to know. They also accept invitations from those who would be beneficial to have as connections.

The alley cat. Alley cats only send invitations to people they know or people they have a specific reason for connecting to, but they accept invitations from just about anyone. They believe there is value in knowing your connections but that there are also unexpected opportunities in new connections, some presently known, some unknown.

There is value in utilizing each of these strategies. Regardless of which animal you are, the point is to be actively connecting with and building your network.

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Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and president of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website at www.financialsocialmedia.com  and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.