LinkedIn is a multi-dimensional entity full of exciting possibilities, valuable new information, career advice, job postings and thinly disguised want ads. For those who have been members for more than 20 minutes, we all hold out hope that buried in the activity is something that we really can use. At least once a week I see something new to me (or a different twist on a familiar topic) and realize that I wouldn’t have thought about the subject that way, and that’s good.
Of course, there’s the other side of LinkedIn, which is people you don’t know and will probably never meet, wanting to connect with you without providing a credible reason to do so. My operating theory is this: Don’t expect a positive response without giving me a good reason to connect. I do typically connect with people in my industry, given a good reason. Requests for connecting come in two basic flavors: 1) Can you and will you help me connect with someone who might be able to help me, and 2) I’m a good person so you should connect with me (without giving any details about their ‘goodness’).
Recently I was confronted with several category 1 and 2 requests for connection in the same week. The first one asked me if I knew anyone he could speak with in Country B (his home country but not mine) in our industry? As it turned out, I do have a contact in that country (someone I hired 8 years ago) and I was glad to connect my former employee with this person. Last I heard they were still talking.
Person #2 said “I’m good at what I do, have had X and Y responsibilities and successes and I look forward to hearing from you.” Yes, it was that plain and abrupt. I hope he isn’t holding his breath. This person hasn’t demonstrated that he knows anything about me but more importantly how to ask for a favor from a complete stranger. I might be considered a softy by some but here’s what works for me: “Hi, I know we don’t know each other but I noticed that you’ve been successful in this industry and I’m hopeful that you would connect with me so I can learn more about it……” That is literally all it takes to get a connection.
If you take just a little bit of time, you can tell whether you are sowing seeds in fertile ground or wasting time and money tossing them on a pile of rocks.