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I Want To Know YOU Before Connecting

December 2013

linkedin_logo_301730188458_640x360How to Manage Connections on LinkedIn

If you are a business owner, CEO or President of a company, there are certain things I know about you. You are important, you are busy, and you are by most definitions, successful. You may be a people-person understanding and loving the marketing and sales side of your business or you may be a heads-down preferring the financial and operational side of the business. Whatever the combination, it’s actually irrelevant today. Why? I want to know more about who you really are professionally.

Colleen McKenna, LinkedIn Expert

Colleen McKenna,
LinkedIn Expert

I want you to understand there is greater value in saying, “I’m on LinkedIn, I look good and I connect strategically” rather than saying, “I’m on LinkedIn and connect with everyone.” If your Profile is complete and built out well, (one that shows you actually care what you look like) and you are connecting with the right people, you will leverage the undeniable power of LinkedIn’s network to connect you to new opportunities. You will also see the potential to work with your connections to mutually further both your networks and business goals. LinkedIn is the 21st century version of country-clubbing, golfing, fancy dinners.

You are forever looking to grow your business, correct? As the leader of your company, you are the face of the organization and consequently, the lead-dog business development person. You close business deals and you can’t close if you are not in one form or another interacting
with people.

So let’s spend a minute or so and talk about the value of an invitation. You may now spend more time on your mobile device than your laptop. You launch LinkedIn in its app, you look people up, you click connect, done. Wow, that was easy. I have a client who does this while waiting for his flight or in between meetings. I suggested he stop this practice because on the receiving end it looks like a blanket, default-message invitation. It’s not so inspiring to receive.

I suggest using the app for surfing, keeping up-to-date, looking at someone before a meeting, not for working in LinkedIn. Connecting is working to me; I try to be as specific and customized as I can.

People tell me all the time that they continually receive LinkedIn invitations from people they don’t know. It makes you wonder: “Who are these people and how did they find me?”

Other Tips:

• If you want to connect with others randomly (that’s what most of it looks like anyway) know you will probably have a low rate of invitation acceptance (by the way…LinkedIn rates you, warns and potentially shuts you down if you mess this up too much or too often).

• Give people a reason to connect with you that has nothing to do with what you are selling.

• Give people context. Remember most truly connected people meet a lot of people and often need a hint where they met you.

• You’re going to have to consider what type of social LinkedIn citizen you are. Since you may not know a lot of the people in your network, what value do you bring to your network? Do people come to you as a resource? Worth considering.

I hear this over and over from clients and it’s usually accompanied with annoyance and frustration.

Even at my daughter’s field hockey game the other day, a parent sounded a bit annoyed as he described all the invitations he’s been receiving from strangers on LinkedIn. There are two sides to LinkedIn. Last year there were more than 5.7 billion searches on LinkedIn and the number one activity is one person looking at another person’s Profile. That’s a lot of looking, usually accompanied by the thought, “maybe I should connect with this person.”

Two sides to LinkedIn
On one side, we have people who connect with as many people as possible and build out a large and often unwieldy network filled with people – some of whom they know and some they clearly don’t (let’s call them random-connectors). In reality, it’s a business address book on steroids. There are merits to this for some people. If how you do business is a numbers game and is primarily transactional, go for it. Perhaps it’s the right strategy.

On the other side there are people who build and curate a strategic, highly engaged network of trusted business associates including clients, prospects, strategic partners, networking associates, and yes, even some people who simply have rock star status in your opinion (let’s call them intentional-connectors). This strategy fits better for CEOs, business owners, senior level executives and attorneys. You probably have forgotten more people than some of us ever actually meet. You don’t need to connect with everyone … you want a structured, secure environment for your connections.

As a senior member of your company it’s not going to be difficult to connect. People want to know you and welcome your connection but if you connect for no reason and don’t use LinkedIn with any level of consistency or nurturing then what value do you bring? What cache? I would dare to say you might even begin to devalue your own personal brand. As a LinkedIn citizen you owe it to yourself to understand and manage your public Profile proactively. It’s a LinkedIn world, are you living in it?

After a lifetime in business development and marketing, Colleen McKenna launched her own business in early 2011 focused on helping business professionals use
technology to reposition themselves and grow their business with a strategic focus on LinkedIn. She has worked with more than 3,500 business professionals to help them craft and navigate their professional brand for awareness, business development and recruiting. Contact her at colleen@interoadvisory.com or www.linkedin.com/in/colleenmckenna. I95

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