Monday, May 28, 2012

LinkedIn - Introduce Me

You've run across an ideal contact on LinkedIn. You don’t know them, but an acquaintance of yours does. What should you do? Should you use LinkedIn’s introduction feature to have your connection make the introduction?

Similar to the best practices for offline networking, the answer is predicated on how well you know the prospective introducer and how well they know the introducee.

Clearly the objective is to leverage a friend’s coattails to build a relationship with a new contact. We have to be careful though to make sure that our relationship with our “friend” is as good as we think it is and that their relationship with the person that we want to meet is similarly strong.

Some thoughts that should help you

  • Is your contact an advocate? - Only ask when you feel confident in your relationship otherwise your credibility will be lost. In his book, Dig a Well before You’re Thirsty, Harvey MacKay created the perfect metaphor for the order of activities in the networking process.
  • Assure that there is a connection - Just because people are “friends” on a social media platform doesn't mean that they have a strong relationship. Asking someone to introduce you to someone that they don’t know well doesn't exercise the type of leverage that is possible.
  • There is no harm in going direct - It is important that you don’t limit your success because you lack an introduction. Pick up the phone, send an email or an InMail. You’ll be glad that you did.

Introductions are a truly powerful tool in business networking. Focus on being worthy...the rest will take care of itself.

Monday, May 21, 2012

LinkedIn - Recommend Me Pretty Please

Have you ever received a request for recommendation on LinkedIn from someone that you barely know? What did you do? How did you respond? Have you ever asked for a recommendation in the same manner?

Recommendations are an exceptional way for an individual to gain credibility based on the integrity and advocacy of another individual. Think of the recommendation like references that you might use in a job search or when promoting your company, a past employer or a customer agreeing to promote you if someone calls.

How many recommendations are best?
Well how many references do you offer to a prospective employer or customer? More is not always better. Often the more references that you offer the more your really good ones will be diluted. Since LinkedIn does not give a cumulative rating such as the star system on Amazon and Yelp a few really good recommendations will always trump 100 mediocre recommendations.

Who should you ask for a recommendation?
Only people who know you well. It is critical that any tool that you use to promote your credibility be trustworthy. The world always discovers the pretenders. One challenge of social media is that users can mistakenly assume a different set of etiquette than they would use in person. Just think about who you would ask to be a reference.

Helpful tip. The best way to get recommended is to recommend others. Don’t wait to be asked. Be an advocate for the people who you know well and who have WOW’d you.

While it is great to be recommended by many people and LinkedIn certainly makes that easy, it is important to seek quality over quantity.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Cinderella Effect

Do you remember the story of Cinderella? She’s the gal who goes to the ball and at the stroke of midnight her gown turns into rags, her carriage turns into a pumpkin, her coachman and horses turn into mice and she looses her glass slipper…

Every room full of people is just as perishable. In most cases, each group of attendees will never appear together again. Not everybody attends every event. New and interesting people are in the room for the first time. Success comes from treating this moment like a unique and precious opportunity.

The magic of the event is revealed when you know how to meet your Prince Charming. Determine who you want to meet and use all of your resources the host, senior participants, and your friends are all there to help you connect…just ask them.

Sand is running out of your hourglass, midnight is approaching, so get focused and get moving.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

No Need to Chew You Arm Off...Separating from Conversations

Have you ever recognized that a conversation is over but not known how to exit? Whether you’ve had a great 3-5 minute conversation with a person of interest at a networking event or you’re stuck in a circular conversation with a bottom feeder, wander or clinger you need to have some tools to gracefully separate and move onto the next conversation.

The primary goal of attending events is to learn who you should meet with outside of the event in an effort to deepen the relationship. Therefore once you’ve learn enough to know if a meeting outside is warranted then it is prudent to move to the next conversation. This not only assures that you will get to learn about more people, but it also respects the time and goals of the people that you meet.

In fact, your success in networking is in large part built on the strength of each of your contacts network. Making sure that your contacts expand their network will exponentially grow your network.

Rather than feigning a need to use the restroom or awkwardly walking away, check out these simple statements to help you separate from conversations:

  • Sincere - “I really appreciate getting to chat for a few minutes, but I do not want to monopolize your time. Would it make sense if we split up for now to meet some additional people?”
  • Forward Thinker - “Who are you hoping to meet tonight?” They answer. You respond. “Great, I am looking to meet _________, should we separate and when we run across someone who would be a good connection for each other that we walk them across the room to make the introduction?”
  • Achiever - “I see someone who you should meet. Would you mind if I walk you over to make the introduction?”
The key to successful separation is to keep the other person in mind. Helping them achieve their goals is the first investment that you can make in this new relationship.