How many of you receive invitations to connect on LinkedIn from folks you don’t know? How many of you validate the individual before you accept the relationship?
LinkedIn is a powerful business development tool, especially with many of the recent enhancements to personal branding and LinkedIn profile building. Yet many folks on LinkedIn under-utilize its features and create profiles and a set of LinkedIn Connections simply because they:
a) heard that LinkedIn is the place to be found – yet their Profiles are incomplete and certainly don’t tell the story of what they can do for and with a prospective company (minimum viable profile);
b) confuse network-building with hoarding (my list of Connections is bigger than yours), based on the assumption that their “importance” on LinkedIn is equated with the size of their networks; and
c) poach off their new Connections’ lists as they indiscriminately build prospecting lists (spraying and praying).
I recently received (yet another) request to connect on LinkedIn from an individual with whom I wasn’t familiar. All the invitation said was “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
Ever receive one of these?
No frame of reference (“I am connected to so-and-so, who recommended I reach out to you”). No context for asking for the relationship (“I enjoy reading your discussion comments in the LinkedIn group X, and would like to connect.”). No rationale for why connecting with me helps both of us (“I noticed that you blog about this topic / are involved in this type of work and feel we might both benefit from this relationship.”).
I don’t know about you, but I validate each LI request to connect (and on Twitter and Facebook as well). There are some folks out there who aren’t who they say they are (I’m sure we all have more than a few war stories to share on that topic). We connect with them and the next thing we know, they are using our list of Connections/Followers/Friends for email and phone solicitations and we receive newsletters we never opted-in to receive.
Has this ever happened to you?
I’ve made some wonderful Connections on LinkedIn, with individuals who are now colleagues and resources. It started with one of us reaching out to the other, asking for the relationship on the basis of a current connection or a similar interest.
If you understand how to engage with your Connections, LinkedIn is a vibrant, dynamic social media venue.
Out of respect for my Connections and network, I do try to stay away from engaging with individuals who, upon further research:
1) don’t have a photo of themselves included in their profile;
2) have a sparse profile which provides me very little historical or contextual information about them, their professional interests, and a possible rationale for wanting to connect with me; and
3) represent a service or product company that either I’m not familiar with or my Connections are not familiar with. (Hint: another reason why your network and Connections are powerful resources if you are respectful of them.)
Most of us work hard to build our group of LinkedIn connections. We don’t consider them a “list” to be solicited. We do take the time to get to know them and engage with them regularly. With a little respect and collaboration, your Connections contribute towards your growth as a business professional.
What are your rules of LinkedIn engagement?
Babette Ten Haken provides technical people and other sellers a solid strategy for how to explain a product, its benefits, and its value in ways that buyers can easily understand and sellers can comfortably present. She gets people together who are often on opposite sides of the table, like engineers and sales people or entrepreneurs and investors. Her company, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, works with entrepreneurs, start-ups & investors, as well as small businesses and manufacturers, focusing on revenue-generating and portfolio-building business development strategies. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? was named 2012 Finalist, Top Sales & Marketing Awards.