Does networking happen on Linkedin pt 2?
Since I wrote my first post on whether or not networking networking occurs on Linkedin, I’ve gotten a wide variety of responses and suggestions. Some people suggested I should call people I’m connected on Linkedin or email them, while others suggested that I need to make such contacts while I’m fresh in the minds of the people I’ve connected with. It was also suggested I should develop some kind of product or offering in order to justify the possible interruption I was causing when I was contacting people.
These are all good suggestions. I definitely think that contacting someone on Linkedin when you are fresh in their mind is much more effective than if you wait to contact them much later. I actually went through some of my list of Linkedin contacts and in cases where people had phone numbers I called them. In most cases, people were confused when I told them I was a Linkedin connected and wanted to find out more about them. Even when they realized I was a Linkedin connection, most of them weren’t interested in actually networking. It showed to me that while Linkedin can connect you to many people, it doesn’t mean those people will be interested in talking with you. The opportunity to actually network with someone needs to occur when the invite to connect is issued. If you wait, even if you are “connected” the connection won’t mean much of anything, because unless the person has a reason to want to speak with you, you end up just being an interruption.
The problem with social networking is that being connected to someone is ultimately ambiguous if there’s no way to follow up and make that connection meaningful. Having a Facebook friend or a Linkedin Connection or Twitter follower doesn’t mean much beyond the occasional touch of a status update, and those are easy to ignore. If social networking is to benefit a business, the business owner has to find a way to actually make the connection meaningful enough that people will follow through on connecting. The longer a person waits to follow-up on contacting someone who sent an invitation the longer that the initial impression will fade. And while activity on social networking sites can actually make an impression on people, it doesn’t guarantee that the impression will turn into business unless you are willing to follow up on the connections you make.
In the end, what makes Linkedin or and other site effective has more to do with what people will do to follow up as well as when they follow-up. Otherwise the sites are just electronic rolodexes, which someone might consult occasionally, but otherwise ignore in the press of doing business and living life.