What would you do if someone you didn’t know reached out to you on LinkedIn? Those of us who consider ourselves optimistic and open and who embrace the newness and the excitement of what the internet has to offer – the opportunity to plug in to today’s many layers of business people would be fast to press the ACCEPT button and see how that new invitation would open an opportunity to join fresh business networks which would enhance and enrich our reach in ways we never thought possible some ten years ago.
Today, anyone can get the germ of an idea, reach out in the middle of the night and touch experts, leaders of industry, colleagues, competitors, mentors, potential employees and employers, find a partner and so much more – get oneself noticed on the National and Global stage within either an area of interest or for career development/business ventures. For me for example – I want to get noticed in Retail Category Management & Supply Chain as well as Procurement so I network, network, network to keep my contacts fresh and growing.
We’re all rushed like crazy – Business is so incredibly busy these days, but pause for just a moment and think about what’s available to each of us (through technology) in its purest sense. It’s really a WOW.
Apparently there are others (and quite a few – or many) who don’t share the enthusiastic notion that networking is really the NOW and the WAVE of the future. Usually in the over 45 set (yes and I am one of those) many are still not buying into the concept that networking is really a good thing, or dare I say a great thing. There are so many who don’t value the true potential of LinkedIn and continue to misunderstand how it differentiates itself from the Facebooks of the world.
Wonder why LinkedIn is worth 7Billion after only five years? Because it does NOT compete with Facebook and it’s all about business and it’s such a fabulous tool.
So read this and pass it on to everyone you know. LinkedIn is definitely NOT Facebook. Facebook is a personal social media site for friends, family and acquaintances and a place to reconnect with old personal contacts. A site where you only invite people in who you know – never where you accept invitations from those whom you don’t know.
LinkedIn on the other hand is the quintessential business networking site and unlike Facebook, the purpose of it is to expand ones network so as to better brand oneself and get noticed for business ventures, career opportunities, exchanging peer ideas through groups, getting expertise referral opportunities, reconnecting with people you have worked with in the past (getting those all important references) and so much more.
Fear of the unknown, privacy and trust issues, concerns about identity theft or just plain “I don’t have time” and “why should I” are all reasons people cite for not making the big jump into LinkedIn in the right way or in a big way.
At some point, we are all going to wake up and find ourselves in some kind of need – needing the answer to a pressing business question, finding that elusive vendor, desperate to make a connection in Asia for LED shoelaces, information about SLA’s or Key Performance Indicators (KPI) OR one of the most important things of all – needing to find a JOB.
What better position to be in than knowing that you can turn to a robust and healthy network on LinkedIn. In truth that’s exactly why it exists, for the free flow of information and for like minded people to find one another and you know what, it really works.
So one important point before I close – the next time you’re tempted to press the “I don’t know” button when someone has made the time to reach out and send you an invitation to join their network, think twice. What in the world would possess you to do that? Be optimistic and open and be a good networker. Accept that invitation and find out how that invitation can open up so much opportunity to you and to others for the future.
Regarding sending invitations – nothing is worse than getting an invitation from someone one doesn’t know who says they are a friend. I think this is really bad form and doesn’t speak well to the inviters credibility. Better to invite those interesting in connecting with through groups you share. It means so much more.