WHY BIG PICTURE THINKING WHEN MAKING NEW LINKEDIN CONNECTIONS CAN BE A POSITIVE FOR YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS.

Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

As individuals, it’s easy to be mice – shy, unobtrusive, unnoticed even. But why be a mouse? You could and should be a L.I.O.N. (No that’s not a typo) – a LinkedIn Open Networker, as opposed to the feline variety that resides in Africa.

As a relatively early adopter, I fully recognise the value of engaging and networking with a broader spectrum of people beyond this tiny village of Dublin, Ireland. For those familiar with the six degrees of separation theory, in Ireland this figure is reduced to three degrees. That is to say that there are approximately three degrees of separation between anyone in Ireland and eventually your network if determined purely by geographic proximity, starts to feel pretty small.

I read an interesting article recently by Danny Rubin – News to live by, where he wrote about “a smarter way to connect with people on LinkedIn” and it got me thinking about the connections I’ve made and what they mean on both a personal and professional level. Why do I choose to connect with virtual strangers when it would be easier to just say No, I don’t know this person, so REJECT? It’s a pretty harsh way to deal with anyone. After all, what is a stranger only a friend you haven’t yet made.

A friend of mine once described the process of making new connections on LinkedIn as being a little bit like arriving at a party and introducing yourself to a group of strangers. By pushing yourself out there, you do run the risk that you may simply be ignored but I believe in the open mindedness of people and the feeling that on LinkedIn we are all equal in networking terms. It’s about being part of a larger global community and whilst there are a lot of connections made which on the surface seem irrelevant, they could at some point prove very valuable. It’s so simple to reach out, say hello and thank people for connecting. In simple terms it pays to be nice.

The value in making a new connection might not be immediately obvious but that connection request can link you in with so many possibilities. From a recruitment perspective it opens up a whole new vista and I continue to be amazed by the network of connections that various personal and professional contacts of mine have made. It has the power to increase your reach and simultaneously decrease the distance between you and your client base.

It offers the possibility of aligning yourself with a fellow professional, perhaps in a similar industry or perhaps not. It’s completely separate and distinct from making a friend request on Facebook or Google + because it’s a peer to peer, professional to professional relationship and should be treated as such.

However, despite the professional aura surrounding LinkedIn, I do regard my connections as my global family. Like any family, it’s made up of a group of closely bound individuals sharing a common thread. But LinkedIn also challenges you to engage with a wider community beyond your immediate circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. The connections I make on a daily basis might not mean new opportunities immediately but it’s about being open to the possibility that someone out there may have the solution to your problem or that you could be the solution to theirs.

By clearly establishing who you are, maintaining a good LinkedIn profile can be a great way of attracting new business. But rather than sit and wait, I prefer the proactive approach of getting out there and networking. If done correctly it is unlikely to offend or intrude on anyone. It’s not about taking a “spray and pray” approach to reaching out but about taking the time to pinpoint the most relevant and interesting connections within your field and approaching these in a courteous, tailored manner.

So the next time you receive a connection request from a new contact, don’t simply ignore it. Think about what the positive outcomes of making that connection might mean for you and your business. In a world with a lot of noise and distraction, isn’t it nice to have others reach out and acknowledge your presence in an innocuous, friendly manner? Who knows, that new connection request might just be your next customer, colleague or friend.

Campbell Rochford – Turning Good To Great

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