How I Use LinkedIn (So Leave Me Alone)

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(This article was originally posted on LinkedIn – 

Before LinkedIn changed how our profile views looked, there was a small section for “Advice for Contacting Me”.  That got removed in this years’ re-design.  Doesn’t really matter, because no one bothered to look at it any way.

I wrote – “Before I connect with you, I must have met you, or had a phone call with you.”

The hundreds of people who tried to connect with me whom I never heard of obviously didn’t bother reading it.

For me, LinkedIn is a way of managing my network of people I know, or whom I can refer business to (or vice-versa).  But more importantly, it shows my current clients and prospective clients people I actually know.  When I’ve been referred to a prospective client.  I’ll look at the CEO’s LinkedIn profile to see who we know in common.  (After 30 years in business, and with 9 business partners, the odds of me knowing someone are pretty good).

My business is entirely referral based – virtually each of our 200+ clients have been referred to us.  (When you’re in the business of advising executives on their workforce and HR strategies, they most likely aren’t going to hire you with via a google search; they’re going to want to get a recommendation from someone they know).

It’s always a positive when talking to a C-level executive for the first time and being able to identify those connections we have in common.  It immediately enhances my credibility and reassures them they haven’t been steered astray.  It’s a confidence builder.

LinkedIn is not a way of championing how many strangers I can connect with (don’t those people have enough work to do?)

Remember when LinkedIn first became popular?  Some people used it as a game – whoever had the most connections, won.  They even branded themselves “LIONs” (LinkedIn Open Networkers).  As if their credibility depends on which strangers they persuaded to connect with them.  I hate to break it to LIONs – if I don’t know someone, I have 20 other ways to find them without looking through your sorry list of tenuous connections.

What idiots.

One of the best pieces of advice I received when I started my company was this: “You want to be the go-to person for your clients any time they want to find someone else.  For example, ‘I need the name of a great CPA; Eric will know one’.”  I love being that resource for my clients.  I built my company client by client over 14 years and through a great recession.  Do you think I’m going to refer them to someone I don’t know well?

My credibility as a professional is on the line with each referral I make as much as it is with each referral I receive.

My mother has constantly preached “you are judged by the company you keep”.  I believe this is as true with LinkedIn as it is with my friends.  The roster of connections I have reflects my values and I’m pleased to have any potential client see that the company I keep is of quality, not quantity.

So if we’ve met or had a phone call, I welcome your connection (or more likely, I’ll be requesting a connection with you).  If not, leave me alone.

Before LinkedIn changed how our profile views looked, there was a small section for “Advice for Contacting Me”.  That got removed in this years’ re-design.  Doesn’t really matter, because no one bothered to look at it any way.

I wrote – “Before I connect with you, I must have met you, or had a phone call with you.”

The hundreds of people who tried to connect with me whom I never heard of obviously didn’t bother reading it.

For me, LinkedIn is a way of managing my network of people I know, or whom I can refer business to (or vice-versa).  But more importantly, it shows my current clients and prospective clients people I actually know.  When I’ve been referred to a prospective client.  I’ll look at the CEO’s LinkedIn profile to see who we know in common.  (After 30 years in business, and with 9 business partners, the odds of me knowing someone are pretty good).

My business is entirely referral based – virtually each of our 200+ clients have been referred to us.  (When you’re in the business of advising executives on their workforce and HR strategies, they most likely aren’t going to hire you with via a google search; they’re going to want to get a recommendation from someone they know).

It’s always a positive when talking to a C-level executive for the first time and being able to identify those connections we have in common.  It immediately enhances my credibility and reassures them they haven’t been steered astray.  It’s a confidence builder.

LinkedIn is not a way of championing how many strangers I can connect with (don’t those people have enough work to do?)

Remember when LinkedIn first became popular?  Some people used it as a game – whoever had the most connections, won.  They even branded themselves “LIONs” (LinkedIn Open Networkers).  As if their credibility depends on which strangers they persuaded to connect with them.  I hate to break it to LIONs – if I don’t know someone, I have 20 other ways to find them without looking through your sorry list of tenuous connections.

What idiots.

One of the best pieces of advice I received when I started my company was this: “You want to be the go-to person for your clients any time they want to find someone else.  For example, ‘I need the name of a great CPA; Eric will know one’.”  I love being that resource for my clients.  I built my company client by client over 14 years and through a great recession.  Do you think I’m going to refer them to someone I don’t know well?

My credibility as a professional is on the line with each referral I make as much as it is with each referral I receive.

My mother has constantly preached “you are judged by the company you keep”.  I believe this is as true with LinkedIn as it is with my friends.  The roster of connections I have reflects my values and I’m pleased to have any potential client see that the company I keep is of quality, not quantity.

So if we’ve met or had a phone call, I welcome your connection (or more likely, I’ll be requesting a connection with you).  If not, leave me alone.

 

 

 

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