Shortly I will have 11,000 contacts on LinkedIn. I get, on average, 100 new contacts a week. You would not need a third hand to count the number of contacts who I would consider friends. I am guessing that maybe I actually have met a hundred or so of these individuals. But that’s the point, LinkedIn works best when it is a network of strangers.
Now the LinkedIn police are going to be mad at me. You see, you are only supposed to invite people you know to join your network. This is to avoid spamming. But the funny thing is, on LinkedIn we want to receive invitations from strangers. If we know all of our contacts, what do we need LinkedIn for?
So how did I do it? Well, first I invited my friends, acquaintances and colleagues. Then I joined the group TopLinked and, eventually, became a paid member. Every week I receive 4 lists of members all of whom I invite to join my network. At first, hundreds of invitations were sent. Now, it’s about 20 a week. (You cannot send more than one invitation to one e-mail address. LinkedIn does the screening for you. For example, once I received an e-mail list of someone else’s contacts. There were over 1,000 addresses. When I entered the list into the system only 30 were actually sent.) But since I am a paid member, I appear on the TopLinked paid members list and receive approximately 50 additional invitations. The remainder come from the other LinkedIn groups to which I belong and from contacts that I make through real-world networking.
Additionally, include your mailing address in your “name.” Contact information is only available to contacts. By definition this means that if someone sees your profile and would like to connect they may not be able to if they don’t have your e-mail. Why put up a barrier to a new contact? Include the address.
The one rule to follow is simple: accept all invitations. The caveat is to look at the member’s profile photos when available. Every so often I get an invitation from someone with a strange photo. LinkedIn is a PROFESSIONAL website, not a SOCIAL website. So when I noticed that a new contact was showing off his abs on his profile photo, I clicked on the profile to see who he was and immediately deleted him when I discovered that he was in “the adult entertainment” industry.
I am certain that there are more than a few persons in my network with whom I would never associate. No one can reasonably hold that against me. There is no way to screen all invitations.
Why should you care about LinkedIn? Because networking is the best way to find a job. By definition, people on LinkedIn want to be helpful. My contacts, strangers, are always sending me requests to meet someone on my network. I, and the vast majority of LinkedIn members, are happy to oblige. That’s the reason we signed up, to network. Today I help you get a job, tomorrow you become my client. It’s that simple.
To make the LinkedIn police happy, understand this: Because I am on TopLinked I am what is called an “open networker.” Anyone sending me an invitation is by default welcome to do so. For that reason I am not violating LinkedIn policies. When I send an invitation to someone who is not an “open networker” we have actually met. And if they are not a member of LinkedIn, they always thank me for the opportunity. The LinkedIn system works!
So by all means invite me to join your network. I’ll gladly accept!