The One Simple Tweak that Will Transform Your LinkedIn Experience
For a user with multiple connection requests daily, taming the world’s top professional social network started with a simple question. If your network has grown unwieldy, here’s how to take it back.
I love LinkedIn. LOVE it.
Since its mass adoption, virtually everyone in my professional network has an account. I started using it about 5 years ago to keep tabs on colleagues, mentors, mentees, former co-workers – everyone. It helps me stay organized and keep tabs on the people people that I meet around the country at conferences, networking events and through mutual contacts.At first, it was a wonderfully simple way to access everyone I knew professionally in a moment. If I wanted to introduce a colleague to another colleague, there was no simpler way. If I wanted to check in on a former co-worker’s job status – it was a quick and dirty way to snoop. But slowly, as my network grew past the 500 contact mark, my LinkedIn experience began to change.
I started getting random requests from people to connect. Complete strangers with great past experience were reaching out. Overwhelmed by the deluge of requests, I began to indiscriminately accept requests from strangers. I clicked “accept” and promised myself to send a note to ask the person more about themselves, and share a little info about myself in turn.
Guess how that worked out? Right. It didn’t.
After a while, my network was no longer my own. When scrolling through hundreds of contacts, I became overwhelmed. Clicking “accept” had seemed like a great idea at the time. But after a few months and not remembering who was who, how or if we’d met in person – I realized my colossal mistake.
Then one day I followed a Forbes writer on Twitter. I really enjoyed an article he wrote, so after he followed me back on Twitter I decided to take our relationship to the “next level” by requesting that he join my LinkedIn network. His response changed my LinkedIn experience.
Instead of accepting my request, he replied back to my query with a note. “Hi Amanda. Thanks for connecting. What brings you my way?”
I responded by telling him how I had enjoyed his recent article, followed him on Twitter, yada yada. I realized in the response, I was breaking down the wall that keeps so many of my LinkedIn connections complete strangers.
He accepted my request and we set up a phone date for the following week. In a mere moment he went from random to memorable.
I now follow his lead and prompt new LinkedIn contacts to share a little about themselves before I rush to accept them as a connection. As a result, I have uncovered some true gems within my soon-to-be professional network. I was recently asked (without prompting) to submit my capabilities statement to a Fortune 100 company just by starting a conversation. One such conversation opener uncovered a potential television opportunity. In addition to new opportunities, I am also able to observe how someone found me, so I know which of my marketing tactics (blogging, speaking, tweeting) are working.
So the next time a complete stranger asks to join your LinkedIn network, don’t rush to “accept” or “deny.” Take it slow. Start a conversation instead. You never know where the conversation may lead.