We’re Linked In, But Are We Connected?

Posted on January 16, 2009 by Nora DePalmaNo Comments

On Linked In, there are similar dynamics to other social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.  Which is to say there are similar dynamics to the high school lunch table, and maybe all groups of humans from time immemorial.  Some folks are into building mutually beneficial relationships.  Others are into building up themselves.

In our relatively small, tight-knit industry, relationships have always loomed larger than many top notch pros from the outside have understood.  It’s just the way we are.   Social media doesn’t change the game, it simply provides more tools for doing it right.   As it happens, my view of “doing it right” is consistent with all best practices in social media I’ve seen:

The Introduction

  • It’s one-click-easy to invite someone to join your network. It only takes another 1-2 seconds to add a brief, “hope you’re well” to that.  Very few people take that small extra step.  To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, have we come to this, people?   We already know you’re taking a little me-time at your desk or you wouldn’t be on Linked In.  Turn that into we-time and let me know that I’m more important to you than just building your numbers.

  • Personalization is downright crucial if you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know.  I receive invites to be Linked In based solely on the fact that we are members of the same group.   Call me high-maintenance, but that’s not enough for me.   A shoutout here to http://www.linkedin.com/pub/9/663/8a2 who rejected the Linked In template in favor of writing: “Hi Nora, you have an interesting career. I hope by accepting my invitation we can be a valuable resource for each other.”   Nice.

The Acceptance

  • Admittedly, it’s a lot easier to just click “accept” when the invite comes in.  It’s on someone else’s timing and you might not have those 1-2 seconds to personalize.   Still, you can wait on responding until you have a moment.

  • If someone does personalize an acceptance of your invitation, take the time to respond.  I recently received a (templated) Linked In request from someone I hadn’t seen in 18 months.  My “how has life been treating you?” response was ignored as she apparently moved on to bigger and better conquests.  We’re Linked In, but we’re definitely not connected.


  • It’s hard to break in to any group, offline or online.  The best advice I’ve seen is to start by shutting up and listening—admittedly not one of my own spiritual gifts.  Diving in with a self-promotional link to a new product or service is like barging into a group at a cocktail party and saying, “Enough about you. Here’s what’s cool about me.”

  • Good ways to break in include posting links to articles that could interest group members and by asking questions.  Answering questions is good too, and a good way to promote your expertise assuming that every answer doesn’t come back to, “Here’s what’s cool about me.”


  • At some point, all good relationships need a face-to-face to grow.  I love the new Events feature on Linked In.  Use it to let your network know that you’ll be at a specific trade show. Or organize a meet up in your city.   Set up an event and post the invite to your groups.

  • For the time-crunched, simply note on your profile if you’re attending an event or visiting a city.

The digital world has made it easier to reach out, but it doesn’t change the fact that people do business with people they like and trust.   Don’t just Link In.  Connect.

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