Happens fairly frequently someone will ask, “Do you really know all those people on your LinkedIn network?”
Short answer is, “Most of them.” I went down the list a couple weeks ago after a business trip and figured I know better than 70% of them on sight and they’d know me. There are many (maybe another 20%) I’ve added having met at conferences, twittering or geek dinners. That last 10% is an interesting story in itself. Most of them made first contact. I tend not to decline those invites… as you never know who you’re going to meet!
I’m very fortunate in that my blessing/curse in life is “social” in nature. I was always getting in trouble in grade school for being in the chatty groups. Even at an early age I was a listener and a connector. Not a gossip. That’s not me. But, I do get around in all kinds of crowds. I mingle, learn, meet and move on. It’s fairly often that I have a chance to say, “Hey, do you know so-and-so doing such-and-such?” ie, I’m a connector. I would much rather facilitate a meeting of a few great minds than horde them like a marble collection or something.
Invariably, the next question is something like, “Well, how do you add people so quickly?” Another simple answer, “I just ask.” After all, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. I go to tradeshows all over the world. Next week I’m in Bahrain (again). Last month was Houston. December I was in London and Dubai. You meet people. You collect business cards. You put them in the address book of your computer. You upload that contact list to LinkedIn on a regular basis. You invite the new people who have since joined the network. You grow your list. It’s a process. I very seldom ask anyone to connect I haven’t met. A notable recent exception was when the local family needed help in El Salvador. I added maybe three or four total strangers to my contacts in the hopes of finding some local relief for said family. Another couple examples are the many VC I’ve asked to connect as well as Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn). It’ll happen as I’m just persistent enough to not become a total pain in the ass.
And, I have a healthy “accepted” ratio. But, there are over 200 people in the not-yet-responded column. I think some people have abandoned or seldom check the email addresses they used for their LinkedIn profiles. Precious few have outright said, “Don’t know him”.
LinkedIn has been good for me in a couple areas. First, my contacts move around. A LOT! I might not catch their new email address or news of their promotion for months. LinkedIn acts as a kind of always up to date directory for me. Second, the instant networking is simply awesome. I can ask a question on some odd topic and get dozens of points of view in short order from people I might know or two/three degrees of seperation. Finally, it’s already proven to be a winner in the recruiting dept. I have only gone to my network twice with a question (and those were locally constrained) to ask if they knew of anyone with a particular skillset looking for work. Led to four resumes I’m sure I’d have never seen otherwise (and a few more LinkedIn connections of course).
Having the new Mobile LinkedIn app has been awesome! I met several people in Bahrain, asked them on the spot if they were on LinkedIn and nabbed the green light right then and there.
So, if you do want to connect… feel free to add me to your LinkedIn network.