LinkedIn and Crickets
With all of the articles and posts sharing LinkedIn best practices, I am still surprised at what people do and don't do when using the site to make connections. Some recent experiences got me thinking: are people using the tool strategically or are they "collecting" connections like some people collect business cards. Two examples stand out:
Case 1: Someone I have been connected with for many years recently reached out to share what she is doing and proposed we meet to catch up. I have followed her posts and updates and wanted to hear more. I wrote back that I would love to meet, and also shared that based on something she mentioned in her message, I wanted her to know I was no longer working in the space I was in when we first met. Crickets.
Case 2: In the past several months I have received connection invites from several individuals I don't know. I don't always accept these - I like to at least have context with people I connect with - but when I looked at their backgrounds and saw common connections, I thought we might be good for each others networks. I followed up with a personal message thanking them for reaching out and proposing we schedule a time to talk so we can better understand how we might support each other. Crickets.
While I might not be the most proficient user of LinkedIn, I do speak on, and conduct training on strategic networking. Let's face it; LinkedIn is for many, an online version of attending a networking event rather than a tool to help with business. If you're interested in having a more productive experience for both you and your connections, here are a few suggestions:
If someone sends you a message, respond! It's the polite thing to do. We are all busy but you never know what you might learn if you take 15-30 minutes for a phone call or coffee. Thirty minutes spent today could lead to a job, a contract, a collaboration, or a referral in the future.
Always personalize your invitation to connect. This is especially important if you don't know the person. Something as simple as, "I came across your profile and based on [our mutual connections/ your industry/ our backgrounds] thought it might be a good idea to get to know each other. (Note that you can't personalize a message on mobile apps when you send the invitation using the "People You May Know" page).
Don't make assumptions. That person you don't think will be helpful based on their job, title, or company, might know just the right person or opportunity you are looking for.
Share you tips and best practices for creating meaningful connections.