LinkedIn and Our Rise From the Dark Ages of Networking

Whenever I catch myself sniveling about the unending hum of social media, I just think back a few years and instantly feel better.  We’re in the jet age baby!  Even a decade ago networking more resembled travel via rabid donkey.

Back then, networking was one of those brutal 2% activities.  You can always spot a 2% activity because the prevailing advice will sound like this: “approach 100 people and you’ll bring in 1 or 2 good leads.”  Yes, they’re talking about the business equivalent of taking up carnival knife throwing.  Even so, I was a dedicated two percent maniac—locked in and making the rounds.  My face started glowing just on rumors of a networking event.

I have vivid memories of a networking group I attended around 2002.  It was a cold 8:30 on a winter Monday morning, I stood up and introduced myself to the group.  I gazed out upon four Realtors, an accountant that refused to make eye contact with anyone, and a woman who sold and was now cradling her shockingly realistic infant doll.  There isn’t much more I can say about this event, you already know how it went.  Luckily, nobody needed to buy a house…

While it’s easy to complain about technology, looking back makes it easier to embrace the awesome that comes with the bad.  A lot of times I find new clients thinking of LinkedIn as a whiz-bang digital version of that old networking group.  They’re guarded, fast on the IDK (I Don’t Know) button and typically have 25 connections.  They run their account like a catalog of face-to-face business contacts from the last several months.

If this sounds familiar, you can start leveraging your LinkedIn experience immediately.  Here are four great steps to get started:

1) CONNECT to your real world contacts and don’t be afraid to go all the way back.  Take the extra time to explain that history in your connection requests.  

2) FOLLOW businesses and organizations that you’re interested in.  This up to date information in your feed is a great way to get a foot in the door.  

3) JOIN groups as an excellent first step in laying the groundwork for future face to face encounters.  

4) Tell people that you’re OPEN to connecting with them.  Stating that you’re a LinkedIn Open Networker (LION) in your profile will snag those connections that might have otherwise passed you by.

If there’s only one thing to keep in mind it’s this: A larger number of LinkedIn connections means you see more people and more people see you.  What you get are more opportunities to find a job or sell your services—no cold mornings or scary dolls required.

Carol Sosalla