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Are You the Missing Link on LinkedIn?

networking with the missing link on LinkedIn

As a newbie to LinkedIn back in 2008, I learned something from a L.I.O.N in disguise that I promised myself, I was not going to be a chimp and decided to set up my first LinkedIn policy long before I knew that there was something called a social media policy.  This week, I’m taking out another real story from my life on social media and sharing precious lessons learned.

 

The story about connecting with the Missing Link

 

A few years back, when I was still deeply into my IFRS consulting practice, a trusted friend introduced me to a gentleman whom he knew through his family. Since the gentleman and I had a similar profile, his intention was that perhaps we could work together on projects. Preliminaries went well.

It was decided that we would get in touch when the right opportunities arose and I happily accepted an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.  At that point, the new contact had about 25 connections.

A month later, I saw his name on my news feed bouncing with contacts, many of whom were personally known to me, that is, these were not the ones you see in the People You May Know section and blindly click to connect with, but people who I had actually worked with.

So out of curiosity I checked his LinkedIn Profile.  In 2 weeks he had jumped to over 250 out of which at least 12 were former colleagues of mine.

I thought to myself, this is great; I can get more references about his professional style from my colleagues.  What happened next left me gob-smacked.

My colleagues said they did not know him from Adam and connected for 1 reason – they saw my name and that was good enough for them.

I went back to my friend and told him what was happening.  Seems the same had happened with him and he was angry. I remember him saying something to the effect that if street dogs had LinkedIn profiles, this guy would connect there too!

In subsequent chats he was jokingly referred to as the Missing Link.

We both disconnected from him as did many others.

The last I heard of him, he had managed to get himself featured as a LinkedIn Power Profile for the 5 most viewed profiles in his niche that same year and he actually has that as an accomplishment on his profile.

My friend and I know how he did it and I admire him for his strategy. No harm in giving the Devil his due, but even now, I cannot help but wonder – does he have a strong connection with his contacts or is it a numbers game for him?

So how do you ensure that you don’t end up being called a Missing Link or much worse by people behind your back when you try to connect?

Chimpanzee wondering about connecting

 

Here are 10 pointers:

 

  1. Understand that LinkedIn is a professional social media platform. People want to connect to further professional or business interests, not win popularity contests. They want to know you professionally and not learn about your private life. Keep it professional.

 

  1. If you are trying to connect with someone who is outside of your circle, find a reason to connect and make it worthwhile for the other person to accept your invitation. Is it an author whose books influenced you years ago? Mention it. Is it someone who posted on a Group Page and caught your attention? Mention it. Do you think that connecting would be beneficial to the other person? In that case, why not mention it? People like to know that there is a common thread that ties you together. Not just an open networker playing a numbers game.

 

  1. Following from the above point, when you send out your invitation to connect, don’t use the generic

 

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

 

Instead, introduce yourself telling them how you found them and why you would like to connect.

 

  1. Alternatively, if they are a Group Member, send them a mail asking to connect and let them take the call. Some of my best and most meaningful connections to date have started that way.

 

  1. If you are inviting someone to connect whom you have met at a networking event or at a seminar, mention it in your invitation. The same applies if you are connecting with someone after many years. Remind them of who you are. Not everyone uses LinkedIn like Outlook Express. Some log on once or twice a week and unless they are able to remember you, they might just put you in Spam or report that they do not know you, which is embarrassing.

 

  1. Once your invitation is accepted, send an acknowledgement. If you have not already mentioned how you could benefit the new contact at the invitation stage, now is a good time to bring it up. (Refer to my blog post Do You Network or Netweave?)

 

  1. By this point, you are ready to start creating a meaningful and mutually beneficial network connection. You need to nurture it and the best way is to pay attention to them. By this, I mean, look at your activity feed. Have they shared a post? Have they had a promotion? Communicate and connect. Hit the Like button or write a few words. Maybe send them a private message?

 

  1. Keep your interactions professional and do not spam them. Refrain from getting personal in front of everyone. If they share a post make sure your comments lead to further professional interactions which enable others to join in and keeps the conversation flowing.

 

  1. Don’t assume that if the other person has accepted your LinkedIn invitation, he will also accept your Facebook request. It can give the impression that you are trying to stalk them or worse.

 

  1. Mind your manners at all times. If the new contact can accept your invitation to connect they can easily disconnect and even block you without your knowledge which I feel can be quite embarrassing.

 

There are so many other rules of engagement – don’t make these mistakes

 

5 mistakes professionals make on LinkedIn ebook

 

What’s your experience of networking on LinkedIn? I’d love to read them. Share your LinkedIn experiences with me in the comments box below! 

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Written By: Vatsala Shukla originally in February 2013 and updated for content.

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26 Responses to “Are You the Missing Link on LinkedIn?”

  1. Some of these rules are vaguely familiar and with that said, despite having a profile on the platform, I haven’t created relationships. After I joined women’s groups, I tried connecting with members when I created my website and my criteria was, if their photo showed them wearing jewelry. I didn’t have other criteria & so, althou I know my target audience is on LinkedIn, I don’t use the platform.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I have written quite a few blog posts about LinkedIn and etiquette in particular, Roslyn, so that may be one of the places from where you are remembering the rules. Your criteria for connecting with women on LinkedIn is a valid one and a good way to narrow down your Ideal Client persona. Maybe you can add another criteria, for example their activity on Pinterest and if they have a Board for jewelry or do lots of repins of your lovely visual images?

      Some social media platforms are better suited for different businesses but having a LinkedIn profile helps because it gives people another place to check your credentials and if they invite you to connect, then that is awesome!

  2. I must admit, I’m having trouble connecting with LinkedIn and I think it’s because I haven’t taken the time to really learn about all its potential on a professional level. I’ve found myself asking Joe a few times how this works and that works and with many of our design clients being on LinkedIn, it’s time that I start to practice what we preach to them about Social Media. Thanks for the tips and inspiration to make it a little easier to learn about it.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      LinkedIn is a great networking platform and even if you are not very active on it yet, the first step would be to create an optimized profile and use the benefits of multi-media on your profile and the LinkedIn publisher for promoting your business, Gisele. Your clients will find you and invite you to connect. I’m delighted the tips have inspired you to tackle LinkedIn.

  3. Ian Campbell says:

    Excellent post on LinkedIn Vatsala. I think too many try and use it as “just another social network” where that is not the case at all. I am usually careful of who I connect with and I am always professional with my LinkedIn contacts. It is a place for business, not another Facebook and the amount of connections is irrelevant compared to the quality. Cheers, Ian

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I second you with a big Yay, Ian!

      Unfortunately, a lot of the younger professionals or those that are starting out on using LinkedIn don’t take the time to understand the platform or its finer nuances and ultimately their profile reads like an online CV or they end up with tons of connects who may not be relevant to their career goals and aspirations and who remove the connection once the badgering with sales and other unsolicited messages start.

  4. Joe Butka says:

    I only use LinkedIn to connect with current clients and passed associates. On new requests I look at whether they have come through someone I am already linked to and do we share a common interest.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I follow a similar policy while connecting on LinkedIn Joe. For me actually knowing my connections is important and I often write first to find out why the person wishes to connect and then take a call depending upon their response. If I do connect and don’t get a response to any message within 3 days, I have no qualms about removing the connection, especially if I see them suddenly active on LinkedIn acquiring connections because it is clear that they are playing connection name building rather than building real connections.

  5. It’s interesting Vatsala, as one of my new mandates is to learn more about how to connect with people on LInkedIn for the new venture I am aligned with in the health and wellness and marketing fields. I’ve focused on people I know and also people in the writing world, being that I am a writer. Since I’ve committed to this, it seems I’ve been led to at least 4 posts about how to use LinkedIn to create true relationships and also to find new contacts. I have instinctively done some of the things you’ve mentioned and really need to figure out how to find others in this new niche, even use the free version. Thanks for another great post! Valuable info to consider.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      At your service, Beverley! 🙂

      It is said that when the student is ready, the Master appears and quite clearly, the Universe is guiding you to get the required information that you need to create effective and meaningful connections on LinkedIn. More power to your initiative!

  6. Deb Nelson says:

    Love your pointers Vatsala – LinkedIn can be a great way to connect with people and build your business IF you use it correctly. Lots of fishing expeditions going on out there.

    I recently got a request from someone to join his LinkedIn network. The invitation was a generic one; I had never met him and had seen a number of people in my network recently added him to their networks. So…I responded to him and asked him how he had found my profile and what brought him to connect with me. That opened up a dialog and a reason to connect.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I love the way you described the carte blanche style of connecting as a fishing expedition, Deb. 🙂

      I use a similar strategy to the one you described when I am sent a boiler template invitation to connect but can see some common connections and sometimes that is the beginning of a good dialogue and justifying connecting with people whom we have not met offline. Bravo!

  7. Oh dear this blog puts me under the Social Media microscope and I don’t like what shows up! That’s because I’m guilty of not using LinkedIn anywhere near enough! I do have a profile but unfortunately have not utilised it in the way I should. I know it works well for networking as several of my colleagues are quite active on it and of course it is great for visibility and finding others in my niche.

    With that said, your tips are excellent Vatsala for anyone wanting to get started or indeed improving their game on LinkedIn. I’ll definitely be bookmarking this page for when I’m ready to revisit this Social Media platform, which I hope is soon.

    Thanks for the info!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I’m happy the information will be useful to you when you start working on your LinkedIn networking, Michelle. This platform is different from other social media sites and a good way to rolodex your friends, colleagues and contacts because sometimes people move or change jobs and you might find yourself stuck with an outdated contact detail. 🙂

      I’ve written other posts on LinkedIn under the category Social Media and I invite you to check them out too.

  8. Lesa says:

    LinkedIn, unlike the other social platforms, is primarily for connecting with people you *actually* know. If too many people click that “I don’t know this person” option in your connection requests, LinkedIn may close your account. (In their user agreement, it says “You will not invite people you do not know to join your network.”)

    Your “missing link” guy was only able to get away with his behavior due to the good reputation of some of his initial connections. When others saw he was connected to you, for example, your reputation lead others to connect with him. Had he chosen different people for his first 25 connections, his strategy would likely have resulted in being banned.

    Reminding people how you know each other, or outlining why you’d like to connect, is the best strategy on LinkedIn. Thanks for laying it out for those new to the platform.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I don’t think many people actually read the LinkedIn TOC, Lesa, even though LinkedIn does send notifications when there are significant changes and alerts can be seen when one logs onto the platform.

      Your assessment of Mr ‘Missing Link” was exactly what my friend and I felt at the time and we have both become more alert and monitor our connects. Many people don’t realize that their new connects are visible in others news feeds and if one suddenly notices a spurt in the new connections activity of connecting, that is a warning sign that something is amiss. Thanks for sharing your valuable insights!

  9. I’m not very active on LinkedIn as I’m focusing on other platforms at the moment. However, I know I’m not being happy to connect with someone I don’t know at all, like if I haven’t met them in real life or at least for a while online.

    These are great rules of etiquette that people should follow, Vatsala!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      You are doing an awesome job on the other platforms which are better aligned to your business, Delia, so LinkedIn may not necessarily be the place for you to focus on other than to learn more about your Tribe or to use the LinkedIn Publisher tool.

      I like to know the people I connect with too but am open to connecting with others provided they articulate the reason for wanting to connect and are willing to engage and not go silent after we connect. 🙂

  10. Kaz says:

    Great tips! Sending a personalized message is very important. At the end, we want to connect people not just their profiles. Thanks for sharing!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I prefer personalized messages too, Kaz, unless the person is known to me offline or from engagement on another social media platform. Quality of connections is more important than quantity.

  11. Hi Vatsala,

    I have to admit I am not very active on LinkedIn either 😉 These tips you have shared will definately help me once I get back to it thank you! I find that I get more engagement on FB, Google+ and Twitter….so I have been staying with those 🙂

    • Karmic Ally says:

      The tips will be here for you Joan, whenever you need them. 🙂

      LinkedIn is a great place for B2B as well as B2C businesses but what is more important is where your clientele hang out and where you can actively engage with them. You’ve got that area aced.

      LinkedIn is a good platform for job seekers to network and connect with other professionals as well as establish their credentials as LinkedIn profiles appear on Google searches.

  12. Robin Strohmaier says:

    Hi Vatsala,
    What an excellent post and LinkedIn tips. LinkedIn is a wonderful way to connect with other professionals if used correctly.

    I have received so many boiler plate invitations to connect from people I have never heard of – or have any association with through friends. What a difference a personalized invitation makes!

    I appreciate you putting this together. I will be sharing it!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Hi Robin. Glad you liked the tips I shared on LinkedIn Invitations.

      Personalized invitations make a world of difference, especially if the person you are inviting does not know you. It sends the message that the person who is inviting you has taken the time to read your profile and has not just clicked a button because they liked your mug shot and designation. 🙂

  13. Liz says:

    I am so guilty of not attending to my profile. It’s up and completed, but I only check in when I get messages or contacted. Guess I should pay more attention? With my luck, I would attract the Missing Link, lol. Great post on LinkedIn etiquette! 🙂

    • Karmic Ally says:

      It is a good idea to regularly check in on LinkedIn, whether you are active or not, Liz. Perhaps schedule 15 minutes on a particular day of the week? A lot depends upon where your tribe and connections really hang out. Being active on LinkedIn has a benefit – your name ranks up in Google searches each time someone looks at your profile on LinkedIn!

      You are not alone on the luck part. I still attract the Missing Link variety and that is always a hazard on any social media platform. 🙂 What we can do is make sure that we don’t get branded as the Missing Link.

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I work with driven, passionate, talented and ambitious professionals who've hit a speed breaker in their business or career create their desired breakthrough reclaiming control of their situation with customized strategies and tactics that work.

Using a combination of intuition and analytical skills, I help my clients identify their real issues with exercises to still their mind and allow their inner feeling to emerge in a place of confidentiality and trust. 

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