Don’t Be A LinkedIn 'Collector' Or 'User'

One of the most valuable career assets any of us can possess is a high quality business and professional network composed of people we’ve worked/collaborated with (or connected to) at some point in our careers. By taking this approach, there’s something at stake with this LinkedIn approach: the people we choose to connect with have integrity and quality, we know them and they know us, and we feel comfortable helping them out if they ask for assistance. Let’s take this one level deeper: these people are also the ones with whom we have meaningful relationships and a general level of mutual respect from personal knowledge/connection. One of my biggest personal pet peeves includes receiving a request from a random person I don’t know… and especially when this person doesn’t even bother to take a moment to let me know why they would like to connect. You know the types… they cruise LinkedIn looking for people to add. Frequent criteria for these folks include looking for potential connections who have a lot of contacts in their network… or are a mover and shaker with whom they would like to be associated. So the LinkedIn cruiser sends a request to connect… with nary a courtesy introduction as to why they would like to do so in hopes that the recipient just simply clicks "accept invitation." Bingo! "Another connection added," thinks the LinkedIn cruiser. Then they move on to the next contact target. I call these people “collectors” – it seems their request is all about the number count and getting another notch on their belt to boost their network size. But what they are actually doing is creating a pretty flimsily-assembled group of people with whom they have no real meaningful connection. Fortunately, most of us don’t operate that way. And we don’t like being someone else's statistic, either, if you know what I mean. Most business people are probably actually quite open to connecting to new contacts, but if a unknown person wants to be a part of your network, having a basis for which to establish a relationship is critical to establishing a meaningful connection. And when someone doesn’t even take the time to write a short introductory note, then this kind of request screams, “Collector!” And the sad part is anytime someone sends a request, they are actually missing a true opportunity. A short note explaining how they found you or the reason why they would like to connect is a genuine basis to start a conversation and business relationship. The personalized note acts to authenticate the connection request. And these days, it’s not so much about the quantity as much as it is totally about quality. But even after that point, some people simply don’t get it. An example just from today: I received an e-mail from a stranger without any mutual connections that was nothing more than the basic:


“I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn.”
Sigh. So, I e-mailed back:
“Thanks for your request to connect- I only accept invitations with people I know...can you help me by providing some information on where we might have met before? Thanks for understanding!”
This person then e-mailed back and told me to go visit their company website which should be a compelling enough reason for us to connect. Additionally, they mentioned their company has had a "surge in clients worldwide"…yet at the same time they told me they had "decided to use LinkedIn as a means to find and connect with potential associates around the world who might be able to help me service their requirements." Yeah, right. How motivated would I be to help this person? I basically got hit up with first an anonymous request, then a follow-up one asking me to help someone I don’t know find people to help them with their marketing efforts...and the kicker was this person was too lazy to even make a compelling reason in the personal message to me why I should help them... they simply told me to go to their website! Ouch. Way off the mark, and totally ineffective. We all gain something from cultivating strong relationships with our colleagues, co-workers, and professional contacts. Maintaining a quality and personal connection to each one of these people is critical to our mutual success and builds the synergy that composes the give-and-take cycles of healthy relationships. But when it comes to adding meaningless connections just to "get numbers," strangers can't simply just show up to take, and even more so when they offer to give nothing in return. This isn’t an effective use of one’s time nor effort, and ends up missing the critical benefit of LinkedIn. Simply put: We do business with people we know and trust. There is no "easy" button in establishing relationships, but an effort needs to be made to personalize a request. It takes time and social skill to define and develop those relationships, and by being a collector or user, you are cutting yourself out of working with a beneficial tool that could make the difference in your career advancement through people motivated to help you by virtual of personal association and knowledge of who you are. Choose your connections carefully- and when they connect, that means that they have chosen you, and there is weight in their trust of your integrity and personal relationship... and they have voted "yes" by connecting to you. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In our new YouTube series, "Well This Happened" it's your turn to be the career coach! What would you do if you asked a coworker when the baby was due and she responded with, "I'm not pregnant." Watch the video and cast your vote b posting a comment on Youtube. We'll select one person from the correct answers at random to win free membership to the Work It Daily program. Good luck!

SHOW MORE Show less

If you've ever wondered what a Work It Daily (WID) membership could do for you, a letter we got this week provides a powerful example...

SHOW MORE Show less

There are 3 things hiring managers are trying to initially assess about you in the job interview. This video walks you through what they are looking for and offers insights into the right information to give them. Be sure to check out our free resources mentioned in the video too. They are:

SHOW MORE Show less

Last week during my Office Hours on Youtube, a client asked about how to deal with a workplace bully. After spending many years in corporate HR, I flipped to the other side and became a career therapist. So, I've seen both sides of this situation in the workplace. In this video, I discuss why people struggle to deal with bullies and what you can do to change the situation instantly.

This week, I did something that truly scared me. I sent an email to over 120,000 Work It Daily newsletter subscribers and asked them to answer the question, "What do we do?"

SHOW MORE Show less

A market correction is going to happen. When it does, layoffs will follow. I've been in the HR and recruiting industry for over two decades and have seen three recessions of varying sizes. In the video above, I explain how to tell when a recession is coming and what that means to you and your career. While many people will skip watching this. Or, will watch it and do nothing. I hope YOU are the smart, savvy professional who sees how important it is to prepare for unexpected, unwelcomed career circumstances.

SHOW MORE Show less

In this video, you'll learn how to tell if your career is plateauing due to the Executive Blues. You'll also learn what you can do to fix the problem and get your "executive energy" back so you can keep your career on track and set goals to reach new heights of success!

Want to watch the full video tutorial by J.T.?

CLICK HERE to get access!