Lots of people hate networking. I’m one of them. The thought of entering a room full of strangers and starting conversations fills me with dread. But I do it for three reasons. Firstly, I need to meet new people that could be potential clients. Secondly, most people I meet want to talk about what I do – helping people get more out of LinkedIn. And thirdly, I know most of the people in the room hate networking just as much as me but think they are the only one. But even the most terrified of networkers doesn’t enter the room and hide.
LinkedIn is online networking for professionals. It is the place to find and be found by the very people you need to speak to to grow your business, increase sales, find suppliers, build partnerships and alliances or develop your career. So why oh why do so many people hide themselves with their profile. Why do they put the scantest of details about themselves in their profile? Why do they hide much of their profile from public view?
Some people have said to me they only want to connect with people they have physically met. I don’t really get that. The whole point of being online is to broaden your horizons and open up opportunities. If there is a select group of connections you only want to share your most important stuff with then create a private group and invite them in. But be open to connecting with people that want to connect. It could lead to great things.
I have two groups of people that typically connect with me – those interested in project management and those interested in small business marketing in general and LinkedIn in particular. By inviting and accepting invites from people in both communities I have opened up business opportunities, reconnected with former colleagues and developed new friends in far flung places I could never hope to have met in the physical world alone. That has created a network for sharing, giving and receiving feedback, and developing business.
Checking out prospective connections
I’m continually updating my LinkedIn profile to attract new connections. And when I get a new connection request the first thing I do is look at their profile. Is this someone I should connect with? I almost always message new connections and typically I’m looking to find out why they wanted to connect. Then I ask how I can help them. I’m looking to engage and start a dialogue. The thing I definitely am not doing is selling. I look to identify ways I can help people.
My own profile is designed to make me interesting to other people. So if I find someone I want to connect with and send them a connection request, they can see from my profile who I am, what I do and the value I can add to their network. I’m encouraging them to connect.
Dealing with Cranks
Yes I get some cranky connections. I’ve had my share of African scammers wanting my bank details to ‘help’ them get funds out of their country. I simply dlete them or report them and get their profiles blocked. Most are easy to spot as the profiles have very little detail or have jobs that make them highly unlikely connections for me. For example, I had one request purporting to be from a Nato general. It had the correct photograph, but it had been taken off the internet. So always check out requests from people you haven’t met but keep an open mind to who you can connect with.
If you’d like to spruce up your LinkedIn profile and get yourself found by more of the right connections download my free guide “The 9 Key Points to Creating a Powerful Personal Profile“. Alternatively, sign up for my 3 part online bootcamp by clicking here or on the screen below.