As an employment specialist with a firm presence on LinkedIn, I regularly get invitations from people I do not know. They probably find my name through the “people you may know” lists, probably connections of connections somewhere down the line, but while I rarely refuse an invitation to connect, I sometimes wonder why they want to.
I wonder if the old social media idea is still in play: he who dies with the most friends wins.
My daughter once had a celebration when her MySpace page garnered 500 friends. I guess at that time it meant that she was popular. When I asked her about a few of those friends, particularly when they lived on the other side of the country, she replied that she didn’t know them—they were friends of friends. Sometimes they weren’t even that.
Doing the same thing on LinkedIn may not help in the same way. The idea is not to have hundreds of connections, but to use the connections you have.
A few weeks ago I inadvertently connected with a person in the local area that I didn’t know. How I did this, I do not remember. What brought this to my attention was a message from this new connection asking how she knew me. Suddenly I felt very sheepish. I apologized and quickly removed the connection.
LinkedIn endeavors to ensure security in making connections online. If you state that you do not know the person you are trying to connect with, you have to enter their email address as a security measure. They could also, when receiving your invitation, indicate that they do not know this person. Five such instances could lock your account and render it unusable.
Connections are quite effective when following up on real-time networking activities, such as a job club, hiring event or even a non-work-related event such as a Chamber of Commerce luncheon or church activity. If the contact is not yet on LinkedIn, you can invite them to join by using their email address to connect. If your contact is LinkedIn, sending them a PERSONALIZED message such as the following is highly effective:
I hope you remember me; we spoke after the Tacoma Job Club meeting on April 18th. As I listened to your presentation I could tell you really knew what you are talking about.
I believe your expertise in this area can be a great benefit to me, and I look forward to sharing information and best practices with you.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
The aspects of this letter that attract me as a connection are these:
- Common connection (in this case, a reminder of when we previously met),
- A little shameless flattery never hurts (but I emphasize a LITTLE!),
- Keep it brief,
- Thank the contact,
- Make your request stand out– personalize!
Making the connection is only half the battle, as it were—the most effective connections involve active ongoing communication. Otherwise you could look at your list of connections and wonder how you got connected with them in the first place, and prime opportunities to utilize your network to the fullest are diminished.
LinkedIn is only as effective in networking as you make it. One of the most important aspects of that effectiveness is making and sustaining close working relationships with your LinkedIn network.
- 3 Reasons Why You Should be Using LinkedIn Groups (gloriarand.me)
- 5 Tips to Build and Grow Your LinkedIn Network (socialmediaexaminer.com)
- Not on LinkedIn? Here’s How to Start. [Infographic] (webpronews.com)