I have no scientific proof that LinkedIn is having a huge membership surge. I have not read any articles, done any research or channelled the spirits of networking gurus of days past. But something is happening with the worlds most popular online business social networking mega website.
I know this because in the last two weeks I have been overrun with more than a dozen invitations to join people's networks. In many of these cases the people are new to LinkedIn. Networking is alive and well, both online and in the real world!!!
As of today, I have 144 contacts on the site. Granted, I know many more people, but I do not instigate connections in LinkedIn. Of those who I am connected with, I have probably invited five. Since joining the service in December 2003 I have never been an active linker. But I do welcome invites by others.
I do have one rule....I must actually know the person. With few exceptions, I have sat down and had coffee, lunch or a beer....in person....with everyone in my network. To link to people that one does not really have a meaningful relationship deludes the value of the LinkedIn service. I do have some virtual friends I have met through blogging, but have had many email conversations with them before accepting their request to link.
When I speak to groups around the country about the power of having a network, the number one question I get during Q&A is about the online social networking sights. Some are huge fans who link to anyone and everyone.....others are skeptical. My belief is that these sights are useful tools for everyone, but that they cannot replace in-person human interaction.
I often get emails from people whom I have never met or who heard my networking seminar presentation, but did not speak with me directly. I decline these connections (sorry).
I think that more people are realizing that having connections and cultivating those connections are an important tool for their own success, and thus they are discovering the tools necessary to become better at business relationships.
Have A Great Day.