With the business environment fairly grim, and the job market hitting new bottom every day, people are beginning to make use of social media networks more intensely. I make it a point to share in every talk and workshop to faculty, entrepreneurs as well as students that you must dig your well before you are thirsty. Sadly most of us don’t give it the relevant importance. You start searching for water, only after getting thirsty. When it is really a bit too late. And there are too many people vying for it.
One of the more popular and effective online professional networking tool available to all of us is LinkedIn.With the increase in number of people using LinkedIn it is not surprising to receive/send a handful of requests every day. Most of the invitations have the standard default message provided by the system. This is my opinion is the coldest way to request a connection,. While such invitations are fine when sent to family and close friends, it does not help in making new connections. The message portion of the invitation is a great way to make a first impression. Any note that you put there makes you different from most others. If you can add a quick reason for connecting, it makes it sweeter.
While the message that you write as a part of a LinkedIn invitation has a limit on the number of characters, it is large enough to let the other person know why you are attempting to connect. If you have met the person earlier, a reference to that meeting can help establish context. If you have been acquainted to the person’s work or activity a reference makes the connection easy and possible. If you intend to create a connection because of a common cause or interest, mentioning it helps make the connection. If you have no reason why you are connecting other than increasing your list of connections, you will be better off not sending the invite.
There are innumerable resources available online that provides tips and techniques for using LinkedIn effectively. While I do recommend keeping up with the changes happening on LinkedIn and learning to use it better, the act of sending that first invitation to connect is in my opinion the most essential. If first impressions matter and well begun is half done then learning how to send a LinkedIn invitation is probably the most important activity to learn and do on LinkedIn. Happy connecting!
Things are getting tougher by the day. Be it to find a business or a job – it is not as easy as it used to be. Everything seems to be getting disrupted daily.
Being constantly networked and engaging the environment is probably the only way out. Social media and the internet have made it easier to network, has redefined the concept of accessibility and boundaries. But just as with any other tool in its early days, the excitement of the tool has overtaken the intended purpose.
No doubt business networking or professional networking is an integral aspect of a working life. However in the process of creating an ecosystem and getting connected into one, most of us has moved from quality of connections to quantity of contacts. With social media marketing techniques and online networking forums we all have moved to believe and rely in the strength of numbers. Forgetting that in networking – irrespective of the medium (offline or online) quantity can never overtake quality of connections.
Having thousands of friends on Facebook, or LinkedIn is not going to enable you to get a business or a job if you can’t call and be instantly recognized by even a handful of them. To make sure this happens, we need to ensure that we build quality connections. You need to have a well knit and a strong relationship mechanism to sustain and grow your network. Everyone in your network who you have rightly added, is an asset. This asset has to be valued and nurtured. And for this you need to have a method. If you can have only a handful of high quality connections, you can reach as many people as you want through them.
While the approaches, tools and methods will keep changing, the essential purpose of networking which is to build a strong and healthy bunch of connections will not change. So the next time you decide you or your enterprise needs to engage in networking, think twice before you accumulate business cards or increase your friend list on Facebook. Remember, it is not in the numbers.
Book Title: The Start-Up of You
Author: Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
Don’t get carried away by the title ‘Start-Up’ and categorize the book as something to be read only by entrepreneurs. This book is all about ‘YOU’ the individual, your career and your world. Interestingly though the book starts with the statement “All Human Beings are entrepreneurs. You were born an entrepreneur (not the ones starting companies). The book is not a quick solution to career problems or challenges. But a manual which provides, an opportunity, to view and embark on an entrepreneurial journey. The book compares you to an entrepreneur and your career as your start-up. In today’s fast changing world this perspective seems reasonable.
There are numerous concepts in the book that can help you in leading an entrepreneurial life. Some of the things that I have found really interesting as strong take-away includes:
- Developing our competitive advantage using the combination of assets, aspirations and market realities
- The concept ABZ planning
- The power of “I to the We” – this is not the typical networking advice but specific and pointed inputs on creating and participating in networks, meeting and winning the trust of people and leveraging the power of network intelligence
- Simple and practical advice such as setting up an interesting people fund, maintaining curiosity to be opportunity prone and being resourceful by investing in yourself are extremely easy to implement and benefit from.
The book comes from the cofounder and chairman of LinkedIn which provides him the vantage point to detail on how to use the power of networking which has become extremely important in today’s increasingly networked environment.
I personally enjoyed the section titled ‘Invest in yourself’ which appears at the end of every chapter and the list of books referenced under further reading. While the book is easy to read and move through quickly- it provided me opportunity to tangentially spin-off in directions and set me thinking on how to apply.