10 Additional Answers
(Co-Founder, Creating Customers, LLC)
Networking is one of the methods that every business should integrate into their business and marketing plan. Linkedin is another tool that can be used for this purpose. On Linked In I have two discussions on the groups I belong to,(see if I'm a member of the group you belong to), and what I suggest for the individuals in my network, is to make comments each week on my posts and on other comments other members make to my posts. In this way over a period of time, everyone who is following my discussions are beginning to know each other and when someone needs someones services, they just click on the pic of that individual who made the comment and send them a message.
Trust is built up over time and this strategy I just mentioned helps nurture that trust.
(Founder, No More Cold Calling)
The purpose of LinkedIn and other Social Media sites is to begin a conversation. It just takes a minute to personalize a message. You know the person took some time and didn't just send out an invitation to a bunch of people. If you want to expand your referral network, then write a personal message.
(Vice President, Leppert Business Systems)
I find that unless I fully recognize the person making a linkedIn request to connect when I get the generic linkedIn message then I use the ignor button.
If someone does take the time to tell me why they want to connect or also if they are inviting me to a group why I might value that group I am much more likely to consider the request. I don't attempt to grow the biggest list of connections. I am more interested in connecting with people who I might wish to maintain some dialogue with. I also have a better idea of how my participation may help the person making the request.
(CEO,CFO,VP,Director, Compendian, Inc.)
The connection IS your link to a person on LinkedIn that you don't know and a possible warm way for them to want to connect with you.
(President, Britten & Associates, LLC)
Relevance! I don't know about others, but my LinkedIn philosophy is quality, not quantity. I don't send invitations to people I don't know, and I don't accept invitations from people I don't know. It's important to me that my LinkedIn connections are relevant to my business and that I am relevant to theirs. So, to me, the reason provides the relevance.
Andrew S. Baker (ASB)
(Information Security & IT Operations Consultant, BrainWave Consulting Company, LLC)
Providing a reason is simply polite, and shows that some thought has gone into the request. I wouldn't just silently hand business cards to various people at a conference, without at least a basic introduction, so using technology doesn't eliminate the need for courtesy.
If you can't spare the extra 30 seconds to say something unique and compelling, then you're not much more likely to provide value to me after we connect.
I'm fine with open connections, because you never can know in advance who can help you down the road, or who you can help -- but it all starts with basic courtesy and politeness.
If I'm much more than a number to you, you'll be able to say why in 20 words or less.
Debbie Laskey MBA
(Marketing & Brand Strategist, Consultant)
I totally agree with Joanne and Andrew - social media works as a result of the conversations. When people ask to connect, there should be a reason. Sometimes, I read interesting articles in industry publications and would like to connect with the writers, so when I send invitations to connect, I mention the specific article and add additional thoughts. If I have a mutual connection in common with an invited connection or belong to one of the same groups, I mention how I know the mutual connection (from what company or other experience) or how I benefit from the mutual group. The key is to add some human element to the invitation, so that a conversation is started. When I receive an invite that says 'I want to add you to my network,' if there is nothing added, I ignore it if I don't know the person.
(Chief Prosperity Catalyst, Social Marketing Strategies for Success)
So would you really stand in a crowd of business people and just thrust your card at someone who doesn't know you, but who you want to meet? You really wouldn't take the time to introduce yourself? Do form a point of connection? To tell them WHY you want to connect? Okay, then don't bother with your 'reason.'
I ignore invites without them unless it is someone I know REALLY well, and then I'll send them a slightly humorous, gently chastising note encouraging them to ALWAYS include a personal note and reason . . .
I love your blog!
We met at XYZ event.
I was excited to see you working on XPDQ.
Jane Smith (name a colleague in common) recommended we connect.
I'd like your opinion/feedback on XYZ, you are a specialist/expert/valued professional.
It isn't hard to come up with a reason. And really it is incredibly appropriate. Take the time and you'll find your connections will be much more meaningful. It isn't NUMBERS, it is VALUE!
I always make LinkedIn requests by starting with Hi or Dear x, We met at y or I would like to connect with you because we have z in common.
I don't respond to requests that don't include a defined point of connection because I want all of my connections to be of the highest quality.
That being said, recently a person (call him Joe) who I have never met requested a connection on LinkedIn as we were in the same local networking group and might be marketing to similar clients. I checked 'Joe's' profile out and agreed. When I sent out a notice that I was on the radio, 'Joe' sent a congratulatory email and started a networking series of emails with me. We are meeting for coffee tomorrow to see how we might collaborate in the future.
(Marketing Strategy, Forever 21, Inc.)
Linkedin is like my home. I would not let a stranger into my home without knowing his (her) purpose. Even if he knew someone in my network or was in the same organization as me; if I've never interacted with this person or received a referral from a colleague, I would not welcome him in. Only when the introduction is relevant, as Eric B stated, or if the connection is as a result of a previous introduction will I consider letting him (her) into my home (my network).
Each of my connections is a colleague of mutual interests, therefore the connection must be personal and relative.