Recently I had a conversation with a colleague who is bright, extremely competent, and someone I turn to for great ideas and feedback on a regular basis. In other words, this is a colleague (and friend) you really want in your life because she brings so much value to it.
However, during our conversation she mentioned that she hesitates to ask people to connect on LinkedIn because it feels a bit like she’s stalking them.
LinkedIn is for People Who Want to Connect
That’s the reason people have a presence on LinkedIn – to make and maintain connections.
However, I get where she’s coming from. If I’m asking to connect with, say, a potential client, in some ways it can feel like I’m imposing on them, asking for a favor. But the reality is that that if I’m doing a good job of creating and offering value, then connecting with me will, I hope, be as valuable to them as it is to me.
Well, there may be someone in my network they’ve been trying to learn more about, and I may be able to introduce them.
The knowledge I gain by belonging to specific LinkedIn groups in which they’re not members may enable me to see business opportunities that they’d otherwise be unaware of, which I can then share with them.
The information feeds I monitor through LinkedIn may surface a key piece of insight that directly applies to an area I know is critical for them through our previous conversations and because I see their updates. I can pass that information along.
As LIS professionals, our work is about using information as a strategic asset – and what potential client or employer can’t benefit from that?
And It Makes It Easier to Stay Connected
Another really important benefit is that people move around in their careers, and when that happens it’s easy to lose all of the ‘relationship equity’ you and your connection have built up. Email addresses stay with a previous employer, people may feel awkward about reaching out to you if they’re no longer that “potential client,” and you both lose an opportunity to continue to help each other succeed in your careers.
So yep, even if it feels a bit awkward, reach out and ask for that LinkedIn connection. They’ll probably be really glad you did.