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Give Me One Good Reason To Connect With You!

October 9, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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Anyone who follows this blog knows that I’m a big fan of LinkedIn. In case you missed it, I’ll repeat my social media mantra. If you aren’t yet a part of LinkedIn, you’re missing out on the single most important social media business networking resource available. (Here’s a link to a LinkedIn Primer if you need it). To review, LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals. As a recruiting or be recruited tool it’s powerful and effective, with the ability to connect you to decision-makers and thought-leaders and all kinds of interesting people you wouldn’t normally get a chance to meet.

Okay. But you knew all that. So the developers behind LinkedIn have thought of everything, and have built tools to help you make new connections as quickly and effortlessly as possible. So quickly and effortlessly, in fact, that you don’t even have to create your own personal message when you’d like to connect with someone you know, or in many cases, someone you’d like to know. Here’s what the standard, boilerplate connection request looks like:

It probably took all of five seconds for this stranger to request my connection. And I suppose if I knew him personally I wouldn’t mind so much, especially if he was a busy professional and our relationship had progressed to the point that I knew the “Hi, how ya doing?” was implied. Maybe. But here’s the thing – I don’t know Dick. Nor do I know 90% of the people who ask to connect via LinkedIn. And that’s okay, because even though I originally followed LinkedIn’s official recommendation on connections, “Only accept an invitation if you know the sender and want them in your network,” I soon changed my strategy as I began to understand the value of connecting to total strangers with a common denominator. So now I actually welcome the chance to connect with people I don’t know, as long as I can determine that there will be mutual value to our connection.

Which leads me back to Mr. Weed. Because he chose to use the boilerplate invitation text, I had to click on his name to get to his profile, scan his information, and then try to figure out why he felt a connection would be mutually beneficial. In other words, although he initiated the introduction, he placed the onus on me to do the work and invest in the relationship first. That’s rude and disrespectful. Especially since you do have the option to take a few nanoseconds to type in a more personal introduction, like this wonderful example from my new connection Glenn Watson:

I don’t know Glenn, but his invitation to connect shows a great deal of respect for my time, because he gives me just enough information to determine that we have enough in common to warrant a connection, without forcing me to plod through his profile (which I will do later when I have time, because he looks interesting!) I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of business connection I desire – straightforward, professional, and respectful.

If you’re taking advantage of the magic that is LinkedIn, and you are a busy person, there is a very good possibility that your invitations currently read more like Mr. Weed’s than Mr. Watson’s. That’s okay – when I first started out building my network, I was guilty of sending the dreaded disrespectful boilerplate invite, too. Until I received a gracious, personal, sincere invitation from one of my old employees who said she’d be “thrilled and honored” if I joined her professional network. Wow, what a difference a few words and some extra respect can make (okay she wanted a reference, but still)! It was then I made a decision to put the “social” back into “social media,” and I hope you will, too. Want some practice? Let’s connect!

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Comments

Hi Daphne,

Yes, that's Jon Gosselin! I mocked up the "Don't" invite so I wouldn't hurt a real person's feelings.

I've got a handful of personal friends on my network that I started out with, too. It's a good way to get your feet wet and learn how to use the interface on people who won't judge you when you do make a rookie move like sending the boilerplate invite! It won't hurt anything to leave them there.

So Daphne - let's get you going on building your business network! Someone in your position would get HUGE benefits from LinkedIn, as it will give you access to people that may be difficult to reach otherwise. Start here: http://tinyurl.com/cvh97w Let me know if I can help!

G.

Gwen,
That's a great piece of advise. Thanks for the insight.

What's your take on the utility of Recommendations on LinkedIn?

Hi Joe,

You're welcome - if others can't learn from my mistakes, what good purpose do they serve? :)

Most savvy prospective employers want to talk to the candidate's past supervisors by phone, to do the "read/listen between the lines" due diligence that cannot be done with a written reference. However, I think the Recommendations feature on LinkedIn is the perfect place for peer or subordinate recommendations. If I'm contemplating hiring or partnering with someone I've not worked with in the past, I'm very interested in reading some "here's how s/he operates in the trenches" kinds of recommendations. My LinkedIn profile, for example, features recommendations from lateral colleagues, vendors, and employees, which helps to paint a clearer picture of my overall value as both a leader and team member.

G.

Thanks Gwen, I took to twitter right away but never really connected with linked in for some reasoni think it was because I got on linked in early but started using it to connect to friends. Then I got mixed up with friends and business, and then I ignored the whole thing. What do you say about having personal friends on your network. That's how I started out, I don't like it and how do I get out of that now?

Wait! Isn't that John Gosselin (sp.)?!

G-
Excellent post! Another point to consider is once you have decided to invite someone into your network and "get connected and you discover they have "Blocked" your ability to view their connections - you might reconsider keeping them as a connection.
It's like they want access to your contacts but you can't have access to theirs. Seems a bit one-sided - don't you think? I'm just saying...

Tim,

I've never had that happen, but I agree - LinkedIn is all about equal sharing of information. Question - if they've blocked your ability to view their connections, does that also block your ability to access those connections as a 2nd degree contact? If so, absolutely no reason to connect.

G.

Gwen Darling

CEO, HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling

@HealthcareITJob

www.HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling serves as an online HIT matchmaker, bringing together qualified Healthcare IT...