When I first started on LinkedIn, I followed the original directions very tightly. I only connected with people I knew well. After all, those were the guidelines. But as my network grew and time went on that changed.
Last night, I was reading a conversation thread on Career Director International’s e-list. Someone had asked about how people felt when people sent invitations without a clear connection and worse yet used the traditional LinkedIn invite: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
The story of me starting on LinkedIn, my very first social network, is here. When Olympic Slalom Coach Bob Campbell sent me my very first invite it was the standard greeting but I wasn’t going to turn him down. Nor when Olympic Gold medal winner Joe Jacobi invited me with the standard greeting of “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” did I turn him down. Bob and Joe were friends and so I did know who I was connecting with but they used the standard greeting. I remember replying, “I don’t know what LinkedIn is but sure.”
My relationship with Joe actually grew much stronger because of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and loving social media networking. Joe’s in charge of USA Canoe/Kayak now, a role that I was excited to see him take on. He has used social media effectively to grow that organization too. I bet he still connects willingly with new people.
What is LinkedIn for?
While I was contemplating and reminiscing, Laura Smith-Proulx, an esteemed and respected colleague, vocalized what I was thinking. She said, “I’m always surprised when others say they won’t connect with someone they don’t know. How else do you expand your professional network or promote your business? What else is LinkedIn for?”
Exactly! I have had many people that I didn’t know at all connect with me on LinkedIn and other platforms. I can’t read their minds and I don’t know why they want to connect but I can tell you that I have landed clients from new LinkedIn connections that I know I would never have connected with without LinkedIn. I see it as an opportunity for them to get to know me and see if working with me makes sense. I both have my blog linked to my profile and I post blog posts as status updates on LinkedIn so being connected to me allows them to access my information directly.
The Standard LinkedIn Invite
Though I coach my clients to build effective invitations that are personalized to help them connect with people, I understand why people don’t always use the personalized version.
- There are some places on LinkedIn like this screen on the left above. If you enter e-mail addresses here, you will end up sending the standard invite and it moves so fast that I can’t find the personalization option.
- Some of us have been on social media for so long (well, in terms of a long time in social media worlds) and we don’t remember what it was like to be a newbie. We complain about people not personalizing their invites but honestly maybe no one ever told them the rules.
Set your own rules!
Lighten up, people! You can set your own rules. I do connect with people I don’t know because I don’t know where my next client will come from. Working with people from throughout the world, LinkedIn is a great tool to help people find me and trust me.
I wrote a LinkedIn profile for someone who connected with me and then asked me to write his profile. He was in Saudi Arabia. Just like with my other clients, we connected, then we set an appointment and used Skype to write the profile in real time. But if I had said no to his invite, would I have worked with him at all? Probably not.
I also connect with colleagues. It makes no sense to me to avoid connections with colleagues and many of my colleagues have become my friends precisely because we talk or connect on social media. I think often people fear connecting with those in the same business because they think they will lose their slice of the pie. I find that my clients choose my services because of the connections we build and my colleagues add value to my life through the information they share and the friendship we exchange.
Everyone will have different perspectives but since I am building a business one client at a time, I welcome new connections. I love the ripple-effect!
Stuck in your job search or just ready to move on or up from your existing position? Julie Walraven, a Wausau, Wisconsin-based professional resume writer and career marketing strategist, can help you get ready for your next role! To find out how, Click here!
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