I recently in-mailed one of my LI contacts to ask him for a recommendation of snorkeling gear for an upcoming trip I am taking. I mean, he’s big in the swimming world, so when the question came up I knew just who I wanted to ask. No Googling around for me! I could go right to “my resource.” How cool is that!
I’m not going to get into Facebook or Twitter or the other social venues. I could write a book. In fact, a lot of people already have. I don’t need do reinvent their wheels.
I’ve always viewed LinkedIn as my professional network.
Sure I share some personal stuff. Lots of it. I mean, there are some LI connections of mine that are from Chicago, which is my hometown. So the first question has always been: Cubs or Sox? It’s an icebreaker when you are asking them to become part of your LI connections and it’s fun. I establish a common denominators across mutual interests with my connections. (Oh, and I accept LI offers to connect even from Sox fans, too.)
When I first joined LI, I actually had a strategy!
I wanted to gradually build a network of intriguing individuals whose work (blogs, books, responses in discussion groups) I found provocative. Some of these connections were current and former customers. Others were/are colleagues of my colleagues who recommended that I reach out to them. I consider my LI connections as my online Think Tank. I ask them all sorts of questions, not all of them pertaining to business (hence the snorkeling gear question). There is a comfort level that I have come to enjoy because there has been some sort of connection made as each of us became, well, “connected” with the other.
I’m not a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) by choice.
Some folks like to collect a huge group of connections for whatever reason. I know one of my former colleagues built up a huge LI connections base almost immediately by going through her school’s PTO directory and signing everyone on. I don’t know about that one. First of all, it’s a fairly homogeneous base of contacts. And she told me she wanted her network of connections and their connections to be bigger than that of the other parents in her PTO. OK. So her strategy was competitive hoarding. Whatever. She’s happy and I am happy for her.
Another one of my former colleagues built up a huge list of connections from the extensive set of current and former employees of the company she worked for. Again, a homogeneous list and, from what I could read, everyone was chattering away with everyone else about in-gossip. I don’t know about that strategy, I mean, at least for me. I like to grow from exchanging ideas. Hybridization rather than commoditization. How can you think out of the box when your entire group of LI connections resides, quite firmly, inside that box! No, that strategy is not for me, either.
My network grows.
People reach out to me to become connected to them. They read my blog posts and tweets. I read theirs. I read their books. If there is synergy, it makes sense for me. I’m comfortable with that. The point is, I have a tremendous group of connections, whose work and professionalism I respect and trust. I am in a position to ask them some very pointed business and philosophical questions from time to time, and we have tremendous idea exchanges. My LI connections make me stretch my brain.
How do you interact with your LI connections? Excuse me, gotta order some snorkeling gear.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013-2016. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools and is available on Amazon.