How many times have you received a request to connect on LinkedIn, never to hear from the person again after you’ve accepted?
This may be more satisfactory than the instantaneous spam-to-sell message requests that come from some new connections, but it isn’t much better. What so many of us have ended up with 10 years into the social media era is a vast grouping of connections that are an inch deep. We don’t actually know the people in our connections. Go ahead right now and scan your own LinkedIn connections – how many people have you actually had a conversation with?
Connect with No Self-Centered Goals
I am one of those “natural connectors.” I go through life meeting interesting people and keeping the best ones close. I touch base regularly and keep up with what they’re doing. Periodically I find that two of my connections really need to meet each other, so I introduce them. There is nothing in it for me – often they ask me how they can pay me back. I’ve even been offered referral fees. I always say no. The payback for me is being useful to the parties I connect. Sometimes one or both of them end up being very useful to me… sometimes they never are. I don’t do it with my own needs in mind on the forefront, but, apart from feeling good about helping a colleague out, my payoff is being known as someone who might know someone.
Deepen the Relationships
You can’t do what I wrote about above unless you spend time getting to know your connections on a deeper level. Take 30 minutes on a video chat and make a point of finding out about their goals and dreams and they, in turn, will want to know about yours. This moves them from a vague social media connection to someone whose voice, mannerisms and most importantly interests you are familiar with. They become real people and much easier to remember at that critical moment when someone is searching for their specific talents.
Networking is futile if those new connections don’t turn into real relationships. It only takes a little bit of effort on your part to make your networking efforts meaningful.
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