LinkedIn, launched in 2003 with more than 50 million worldwide business-oriented registered users; has evolved into a great contact management tool. Thanks to connections, people can find jobs or business opportunities. However, people have become too reliant on LinkedIn.
Back in May, in a blog titled 148.7, I challenged the authenticity of social media connections (http://smartketingreflections.blogspot.com/2009/05/1487.html). Robin Dunbar a British anthropologist researched primate groups to predict human behavior. He theorized that communication and behavior attributed to direct connections remained under control at 150. Meltdown occurred above 150. Weekly I field LinkedIn invitations. I notice that numerous people have 150 plus connections. Personally I believe in Dunbar’s theory, thus subscribe to the philosophy of going deep vs. wide when it comes to networking. Consequently, pre-dating social media I developed some personalized networking tactics to deeply connect with my connections. I call these tactics ATP – “Authenticity Touch Points." Here are some ATP tips:
1. When in direct dialogue with an individual drill down by asking numerous questions, listen and remember something personally unique about that individual – familial situation, educational background, special interest, etc. In later communications (e.g., direct conversations, email, etc.), reference what you remembered.
2. Position yourself as a Maven; a title given to an individual who is willing to share knowledge. Continually seed your connections with information that will be of interest to them. For example, if you read an article in a magazine or online about California wines, think of whom in your network would be interested in the article, then make it a point to forward the article with a reference – thinking of you.
3. Handwritten notes. In this Internet age, break through the clutter with a handwritten note delivered via snail mail. A thank you note acknowledging a dinner, a gift, etc. communicates the value of being a friend. Notes attached to articles or funny cartoons have always been effective for me. Top of the list are birthday cards.
4. Never waste a networking opportunity when traveling. Going to be in Chicago? Reach out to a connection to meet for a cup of coffee, a drink or a meal.
A little ATP in conjunction with LinkedIn is a great way to truly be/stay connected.
Sunday, November 1, 2009