I had the dubious privilege of receiving a connection request from a bag of stones that had something to do with mining and not much of a profile. Seriously – that’s all I know of the request. The request to connect didn’t say much more let alone provide a reason that would encourage me to connect!
Like a lot of others I suspect who’ve received invitations from this individual, I ignored the request and put it in the ‘too hard basket’. It could have been a cry for help. Maybe I’ve made a huge mistake? Maybe they have too? Lost opportunity? Who knows.
That’s an insight into what I and a lot of other people are going through at the moment with the proliferation of easily generated connection requests caused by LinkedIn’s ‘gammification’ of the process and members ignorance of best practice online networking.
Whilst LinkedIn smartphone app’s have some great functionality and the mobile platform is the most popular, the gamified version of connection requests should be avoided!
Not everyone is versed in best practice online networking. I’d like to see LinkedIn adding value by introducing best practice during the process itself – rather than click, flick and sometimes stick.
There is a lack of consistency in LinkedIn’s approach towards facilitating connection requests. You need to take control of your own brand when making a request to connect – or you may miss an opportunity.
So what’s this addiction LinkedIn is facilitating amongst its members to connect with all and sundry? From LinkedIn’s point of view I suspect it’s about activity and engagement. For you it should be about increasing your network of quality connections, even when you don’t know the person – yet. That’s how networks are formed and grown. Quality networks connect people with people who don’t know each other yet but add value to each others lives and get to know each other better.
So, if you only connect on LinkedIn with people you already know and trust – is that effectively leveraging the power of technology as an enabler to build your network faster than you’ve been able to by traditional means – such as attending seminars, conferences and workshops? No. But there is a right and a wrong way to go about building your quality network faster and better than traditional means.
The standard LinkedIn connection request of “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”, a profile with a bag of stones for a profile pic and barely any profile content isn’t going to do it. That’s the wrong way.
People connect with people – not stones!
The profile I rejected!
The reality is that you may not know who is going to offer up your next opportunity, business deal or job, so connect in the right way.
So how have I managed to build a strong and productive network of local and global connections who deliver opportunities?
- I give out and I participate through sharing commentary, articles and thought leadership. This activity adds to peoples lives, attracts interest, gains traction and encourages others to connect and network with me.
- I take notice of who’s taken the time to view my profile. I respond with a tailored message acknowledging their attention and letting them know that I’m happy to assist. Yes – this approach has won me significant opportunities gaining local and international clients and I’ve helped people in the process.
- I thank and connect with those who have taken the time to write a customized connection request. I reciprocate the interest.
- I acknowledge connection requests where I believe they are genuine, but maybe lacking in content by responding with a ‘thank you’ and a polite question asking why they wish to connect. If they don’t respond within 10 days – I delete the request. Remember this is about building quality connections – not just trigger happy volume connection requests!
- I acknowledge those who have commented on my blogs and posts.They have somehow discovered my post, taken the time to read it, and then committed even more time by sharing their thoughts. That’s engagement, interest and commitment rolled up into one. And, often I’ll connect with them too.
- I research first – when I reach out to connect with someone I don’t know well I make sure I’ve read his or her profile and written a customized request (you have up to 300 characters). 99% of the time I get a confirmation the request is accepted.
- I acknowledge acceptance – thanking them for it and offering to assist should they have a need for my specialist services. Yes – again, this has won me opportunities and allowed me to assist to get that break they’re looking for.
- I belong and participate in LinkedIn Groups. I discuss, contribute, and support fellow group members.
- I Share other members articles, comment and build a rapport. Create the trust.
- I support my network by promoting them and passing on information.
At the end of the day it’s your call. You can build a quality productive network by using a well thought out approach or you can sabotage your brand by throwing a bag of stones at the opportunity!
If you’re wanting to connect with me or anyone who may be able to assist you – don’t waste the opportunity!
PS: Look out for my next post – there is a sequel to the ‘bag of stones’ connection request!
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