Everyone has their own strategy with LinkedIn. Some people choose to only connect with people they’ve physically met. Others choose to connect with people they’ve at least spoken to, whether physically or on the phone. I, however, have a different strategy.
I like to connect with anyone who touches my industry regardless of whether we’ve ever spoken or crossed paths. I might be in market research, but if you’re in marketing, AR/VR/MR/XR, big data, analytics, data journalism, neuroscience, biometrics, polling, surveys, focus groups, mall intercepts, sampling, research panes, etc, I’ll probably be open to connecting with you.
Well, I’m not a sales or business development person so you’ll never see a pitch from me, disguised or otherwise. I don’t do sales, I won’t do sales, I’ll never do sales. But I have numerous reasons for connecting with so many people:
- Conference speakers: On occasion, I am asked to recruit and chair tracks of speakers at conferences. Having built a broad set of connections over the years, I can quickly find and invite people meeting the expertise requirements without resorting to a tried and true list of the same people I talk to everyday. And, I can even invite people based on geography as I’m careful to grow connections around the world.
- Webinar guests: You never know when someone is going to ask you to recommend an expert on a topic, or when you yourself would like an expert to join you during a webinar. Make those connections early, and you won’t waste time waiting for people to notice and approve a LinkedIn invitation.
- Article authors: Want an expert to contribute their opinions to a blog or article? You guessed it. Building up connections over the years means that I can quickly reach out to experts in many areas to see if they’d like to contribute their knowledge in a magazine or journal article.
- Job seekers: I love being connected to so many people because it allows me to be aware of job notices. I see many and share many, and hopefully this helps unemployed people find a new job just a bit more quickly. Plus, when someone comes to me personally, sometimes I can direct them to a job posting I saw just that day. (On a related note, pay your interns!)
- To put a face to a name: I like to get know people I plan to meet before I actually meet them. And, I often open a person’s LinkedIn profile when I talk to them on the phone. I like to see the face of the person and, sometimes, it helps to have a quick outline of who they are and what they do to help focus conversations. This has helped me many times over the years when I’ve participated in global standards committees where participants live on different continents.
- To be in the know: I wish I knew everything about my industry and the future of my industry but I don’t. I’ve not yet grown my psychic abilities sufficiently. Following people who live in hundreds of cities around the world means that I get to understand opinions that I would never, ever otherwise have the chance to consider. I see stories about augmented reality being used for medical training, I learn new theories about marketing, and I am amazed on a daily basis at the work happening all around me. LinkedIn connections are fabulous teachers.
The next time you see a link request from someone you don’t know. Consider whether any of these reasons would make it a worthwhile connection. It might not work for you but it certainly works for me.