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Should you stay connected with everyone you have met?

LinkedIn has a feature that I haven’t used, until this week. It is the “See Who You Already Know on LinkedIn” utility that offers to send invites to people whose email addresses are stored in your email account. 

A way to conveniently extend your LinkedIn community to people you know seems like a good idea. Why not send invites to people you have emailed in the past?

On Saturday, I decided to investigate this function. I was curious about how it worked and whether I could filter my email connections for those I wanted to connect with.

I hit “continue” in the pop-up menu and instantly had second thoughts–what about all the people who are copied on business emails? I decided to exit the window, no harm done.

Immediately, I noticed the red email indicator light up on my Blackberry. I looked at my email (a Pavlovian response) and saw two acceptances of my LinkedIn invites. Oh no. I was mortified. 

I had sent LinkedIn invites to everyone who has been copied on an email in my Gmail and Outlook accounts since the beginning of time–presidents of client organizations, professors, dentists, plumbers, you name it.

The acceptances kept coming in. How many invites were sent out, I wondered. How many were ignored? It felt like a popularity contest. 

The more the acceptances arrived, the more relaxed I became about my invitation bonanza. It’s only an invitation to connect, I rationalized.

Most people I recognized and was glad that we were now connected. I was surprised that I wasn’t already connected with others. Some I wouldn’t have sent invites to because either I didn’t have relationships with them or the invites might be viewed as requests inspired by personal gain. 

In total, I have received 60 acceptances in 6 days, a 4 percent increase in my total LinkedIn community.

Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? Absolutely. Like change management, my personal goal is to positively influence people to change how they think and act to be more successful. Influencing more people extends my influence, even if it has pushed me out of my comfort zone to achieve it. 

Helping someone decide whether to use a LinkedIn feature may seem like a small thing, but it might be more important to some readers, and that’s what makes writing this blog meaningful to me. You never know what influence you can have.

So should you try out this LinkedIn feature? The meaningful connections you gain might be worth it. They were worth it for me.


Returning Favours One Connection at a Time

The first time I contacted someone famous was in 2004. I had seen Don Tapscott, the author of Paradigm Shift, speak at a conference about chaos theory.  His last slide included his email address and he gave everyone an invitation to contact him if they had any questions. Don had mentioned a biodiversity experiment at Cedar Creek and I was keen to learn more (really, it’s interesting stuff). I asked him how I could get a copy of the original study. Don kindly connected me with the author, David Tilman. I called David and he sent me his research.

A few years later I emailed Matthew J. Bruccoli, an expert on F.S. Fitzgerald and an editor of his books and letters. I was looking for a copy of Sara and Gerald, Villa America and After, a book about American artist patrons in early 1920s France he had helped create. Matthew quickly responded and guided me to a copy on Abebooks

A few weeks ago, I sent a note to Chris Bogen, co-author of The Impact Equation. I am a fan of his newsletters and shared that his guidance is helping me with my book and business. He kindly and quickly replied, wishing me luck.

Connecting with people you don’t know, even famous ones, seems easier and more commonplace today. There are more ways to connect and it is less of a big deal. Contacting an author to clarify a point or ask for guidance is almost expected. 

In our more social world, books, presentations and videos are no longer static creations; they are dynamic by virtue of the discussions around them. It’s a win-win for the reader and the author. 

My opportunity is to make it easy for these connections to happen with my readers, whether through my website design, content or other social media.  Not only will it be good to make new connections, it will be good to return past favours. 


Looking for Connections

I was reminded the other day of a guest post I had written at Pivot Communication’s blog site about my habit of saying hello to strangers as I pass them. This practice extends to waving at fellow runners. No matter how many times I have done this, I haven’t been able to correlate the responses I received − smile, minimal acknowledgement, no expression at all or frown – based on traits of the people I was waving at − age, gender, etc. Why did some people respond positively and others not?

A few weeks after I wrote the post, Seth Godin wrote a blog post entitled Waving to Myself  where he suggests that when waving at people similar to ourselves, “we are not waving at the person. We’re waving to ourselves.” As an enthusiastic waver to fellow runners, I disagreed with his insight: I wave  to acknowledge their efforts and give them encouragement. After a few long runs and many waves, I realized that Seth was partially right. I was waving at people like me because we have something in common and that is what I was acknowledging. 

My first experience of acknowledging connections was on a trip to Florida when I was sixteen.  I was walking across a parking lot by the beach when I heard the song Roundabout, by Yes, playing on a car stereo. I was a huge fan of the band and excitedly approached the two guys in the car, saying “What a great song, aren’t they great?” They looked up at me for a second and resumed their conversation. As I made my retreat I heard the DJ announcing the song and realized that they hadn’t chosen to play it. Maybe they didn’t even like Yes. I was excited by my perceived connection. 

Last Sunday, I continued my ‘wave at every runner’ pattern when a guy passed me. He was waving at every runner too and received the same random responses. I thought, “He would appreciate the gesture from me.” Maybe my readers will feel that way too.


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