I am connected to 750 people on Linked In. I have 10 million people in my network. Many of people I'm connected to I have never met. This does not stop them for endorsing me for various skills I may or may not have. Maybe I'm a great Cat Herder, and maybe I am not, but according to Linked In, I am a seasoned Cat Herder. If you are looking for a good Cat Herder, rest assured, my name will come up in your search. I don't own any cats, I've never herded a cat, but I guess it can't be that hard. Thank God for benevolent Linked In strangers.
These mystery connections and endorsements happen because Linked In is, of course, highly engaged in supporting its own platform of connectivity and to that end, it makes suggestions daily as to who one should connect with to increase profile views and who might be worthy of one's endorsement for some specific skill. People can't be trusted to develop a network on their own. People are lazy. At least Linked In seems to think so.
The premise of Linked In is great. You develop a network of people you work with, have worked with, know professionally or personally, or went to school with. And then, by extension, you are connected to their connections. If your old school chum has a connection that you would like to meet, you can, in theory, ask your old school chum to introduce you.
This works well if you a.) do, in fact, know your old school chum and b.) they do, in fact, know your target and like you enough to provide a warm intro. Otherwise, it's smoke and mirrors, and unsolicited marketing attempts.
I realized this too late. Early on, when using Linked In, I accepted invitations from anyone. I was LI Easy. I was also in the habit of connecting to everyone I met in the course of business. I really wanted to be one of those 400+ people.
Now I am and I look really good on Linked In. Just don't ask me to introduce you to anyone. I'd be happy to write you a recommendation, though. What was your name again?