Once upon a time, I got an email from my son, Mark, suggesting that I check out this new thing called LinkedIn. I joined on 2/4/2004. Several years later, I found out that I was actually the 197,161st person to join LinkedIn. That made me curious. So, I looked at Mark Roberge (#36,253) and Pete Caputa (#7,346) to see when they had joined. Here’s why I joined. Back then, LinkedIn was suggesting that if I was connected to Pete, and I was connected to Mark, and Pete wanted to be introduced to Mark, he’d ask me for an introduction. Now, if I know them both well enough, trust and respect them enough, I’m gonna make that introduction knowing that they’ll both be professional and bring value to knowing each other. Now, honestly, like many early adopters back then, I didn’t do much with it. I was a face to face, belly to belly salesman that didn’t have much use for this fad called the internet. LinkedIn grew without me, but eventually I started using it more. Now, I’m on LinkedIn every day along with 200 million others.
Last December, Lori Richardson (#29,426) and I had a blog-versation about whether or not to show or hide our connections on LinkedIn. (We agreed to disagree.) I just read Lori’s article, “Top Mistakes Using LinkedIn for Sales – Impersonal Requests”. This isn’t a new topic and many that I respect have written on it before. Frank Belzer (#18,132,536) shared 7 rules in 2011. Trish Bertuzzi (#230,786) has written six articles with LinkedIn in the title and the aforementioned Pete ‘I’ve got LinkedIn seniority’ Caputa has 10 different articles mentioning LinkedIn. Casey Lockwood (#26,117,371) invited me to connect last October 16th and wound up writing this article for my blog.
So, there’s been a lot written about LinkedIn. Recently, there’s been a bunch of articles written by people that wanted to brag that they were in the top 10%, 5% or 1% most viewed profiles on LinkedIn. Whoop-dee-do! I’d imagine that everyone that I mentioned in this article got one of those notices. So, what is the best way to build your network on LinkedIn?
I don’t have a clue!
But, I will share how I use it and will answer questions if you’d like to ask.
- I agree with Lori. Don’t use the standard anything. If you’re not going to put effort into the invitation, how can I expect you to put effort into the relationship?
- If I know someone, respect them and trust them, I’ll accept the invitation.
- If I don’t know them, I reply with “Do we know each other? Have we met or spoken?” (Most don’t respond and go away. Again, the effort question.)
- If I do know them, but not well, I’ll look to see if they've viewed my profile. If they’re not there, they probably saw one of those “people you may know” links. (Hey! LinkedIn, can I opt out of them?) I used to ask why. Now, I just click ignore. Most I never hear from again.
- When people respond, they typically write something like, “Your profile is interesting and I’d like to get to know you better.” To which I reply, “I connect to people after I get to know them. If you’d like to have a conversation, please use my calendar to schedule a call.
- It’s not about the number of connections. It’s about the quality of the connections. How many of your connections will say that you are awesome? How many of your connections do you believe are the best at what they do? I think that’s what LinkedIn originally envisioned.
So, there’s a few of my thoughts. Please share your thoughts in the comments and tweet this to your followers or if you write (or wrote) and article and you want to put a link to the article in the comments, please do. Let me close with, I’m no longer looking to change the world and I expect that the world will not try to change me.