Hate Networking? Then Learn To Love LinkedIn

By June 12, 2015 LinkedIn 2 Comments
I hate networking

Thank you Reid, Konstantin, Eric, Jean-Luc and Allen. They are the cofounders of the world’s largest social network for professionals, LinkedIn. And in my opinion LinkedIn is not only a great network for professionals but is also one of the world’s great inventions for those of us that hate to network. And if you hate networking then you may very well want to love LinkedIn.

LinkedIn can help you to become a great networker even if you don’t like networking!

OK. So what the heck am I talking about?

Be honest with yourself. How do you feel about networking? Me, I hate it. Maybe hate is a little strong, but I can say unequivocally that I strongly dislike networking and the thought of walking into a room full of strangers to begin a conversation can make me more than a little queasy. In fact, truth be told….and keep this just between you and I….I have made up excuses to get out of attending networking events even though I knew I should be there. I should probably also say at this point that as far as I know nobody ever died from networking….so it is not actually fatal.

Ask me to walk into a room with a group of strangers and start a conversation and I am floundering around like a fish out of water. More often than not when I enter the room I look for someone I recognize and hope they are talking to someone new that I can meet. That way I can at least begin a conversation with someone that I know before having to turn my attention to the “unknown newby”. And, unfortunately for people like us, throughout our business careers this is a situation that we have to deal with and, if you are like me, it is definitely not #1 on your list of things you love to do.

And that is why, because I dislike networking so much that I love LinkedIn or rather, I have learned to love LinkedIn.

LinkedIn when used properly is a wonderful tool, not only for building your network, but for growing it in a very targeted and systematic way. Why? Simple. Because you can research the people you would like to connect with and invite them to connect without ever having to speak to them in person. Wow! I love it. I am building my network while at the same time avoiding that soul crushing event known as face-to-face networking.

For those of you like me, and I know you are out there, this can provide you with an incredible advantage. You can use their LinkedIn profile to learn about their background, skills and interests which allows you to craft a personal invitation to connect. It also provides the comfort of connecting with someone that you have specifically targeted and you at least know something about before you ever invite them to connect. This pre-qualifying greatly increases your chances of success, not only in connecting with them, but in developing an ongoing and meaningful business relationship long into the future.

IMPORTANT NETWORKING PRINCIPLES ON LINKEDIN

However, even though LinkedIn provides us with some great advantages in our networking it is still networking and you must still remember to apply the important basic principles of good networking:

  1. Always try to provide value to others and ask for nothing in return
  2. Help others achieve their goals – remember what Zig Ziglar said “You can have anything you want in this world if you just help enough other people get what they want”.
  3. Make sure you share your knowledge and your ideas – they will always be of value to someone
  4. And remember to research your current connections and see if they can help to introduce you to others that you want to meet outside of your current network
  5. Be polite and professional. Always personalize your communication.
  6. Set networking goals for yourself – establish targets like number of new connections per day or per week…that way you can measure your progress.

LINKEDIN MISTAKES TO AVOID

And just as important as the “do’s” are the “do not’s” so always try to avoid these mistakes:

  1. Make your invitations to connect with someone personal – never use the generic introduction template
  2. Don’t give with the expectation of receiving – this is easy to spot and will quickly destroy your credibility
  3. Even worse, you don’t give anything and just expect to get. I am sure I don’t need to say anything else about this one. It still surprises me as to how many of these people are active on LinkedIn.
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not – be yourself and be real – nobody likes a phony – otherwise when the time comes to move the relationship off LinkedIn and your new connection actually meets you they will know instantly you are not what you represented yourself to be.

In summary, if you are not yet using LinkedIn to build your network, give it a try. A serious and honest try. You may be very pleasantly surprised that you did.

Until next time. Go forth and network on LinkedIn.

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