LinkedIn – Should I connect with people I don’t know?
Isn't Networking about meeting people I don't know even on LinkedIn?
I get this question constantly. There are several ways to look at this. LinkedIn is designed for you to connect to people you know, however, it is also online networking and there is a feature to help you get introduced to people you want to know.
When I go to an networking event, I do connect with those I know, but I spend more time meeting the people I don't know, many times through introductions, so that I can broaden my network and meet people that I can potentially do business with, collaborate with and develop into a referral source.
50% of users spend 0 to 2 hours a week on LinkedIn
Since at least 50% of LinkedIn users don't spend much time on LinkedIn and don't understand how to use it to their advantage, they reach out to connect with people they don't know simply because LinkedIn suggested them or because they want to sell to them. What boggles my mind is that LinkedIn explicitly tells you not to connect with people you don't know and then sends you suggestions of people "you might know". What you are supposed to do is look through them and connect if you know them. Yet, every day I receive requests from people I don't know with absolutely no clue of how they might know me or why they want to know me. It's a bit aggravating - oops, did I just say that. If you decide to connect with someone who may not remember you, or you don't know or even if you connect with someone you do know, I highly recommend sending them a personalized note to tell them how you know them and why you want to connect.
Networking is not selling!
What LinkedIn isn't designed for is selling. People connect with people they don't know and then send them sales messages. Bad move.
Networking is not selling, whether done online or in person. Networking is about building relationships, getting to know people, determining if you can be of service and that can lead to opportunity. At some point these relationships can be leveraged for introductions or, if appropriate, they may lead to a sale. But that doesn't happen unless you stay in touch, provide value and are willing to do the same in return. People buy from people they know, like and trust. One cold call or follow up from a trade show or event with an expectation for someone to buy is ridiculous. Not that it doesn't happen, if they have an immediate need you can fill, but it's a small chance.
"But, what you want is for that person to be willing to refer you even if they don't buy."
It takes a few calls and visits to develop a rapport and understand the needs and then some people will buy. But, what you want is for that person to be willing to refer you, even if they don't buy. That's a different level of relationship. Selling becomes much easier when we have referrals and introductions.
The most valuable asset a business person has today is their network. Developing a strong usable, network is one of the most important things you can spend time doing. LinkedIn can certainly be a great tool to help you do that.
Since networking is also about meeting people you don't know, in my next blog I'll show you how to connect with people you don't know by leveraging the people who know, like and trust you.
Originally posted by Alice Heiman on LinkedIn Pulse on June 23rd 2016
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