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.
It would seem in some ways, recruiters and LIONs have lessened what LinkedIn could be. If LinkedIn would allow you to specify what kind of connection a person was, it would make for a much stronger community. Who really has 500+ people they could recommend?
This is also becoming an intersting intersection between virtual friends and real life connections. Fred Wilson has an interesting post on the topic.
The question then becomes How can you expand your network, while still having your contacts be meaningful...hopefully a company is working on a solution right now!
I agree about being careful about who you invite to join your network. I am one of those who are new to LinkedIn and fortunate enough to have you accept me as a contact! :-) I guess that means I"m glad we have met in person on several professional and social occasions..
I'm still very much in the process of learning all about it but have found it an interesting tool to discover all the people I know who have already joined! I have yet to make a yet unknown strong business connection but I'm hoping it will be soon.
So far I have taken the attitude that I will only invite or accept an invitation from someone who I would have no trouble introducing to someone else. I have gotten a few invites from people I hardly know and sorry, I too, have not added them to my network.
I was even contacted recently by LinkedIn's Chief Encouragement Officer who goes by Wright Hand Blogger on My Blog Log...and I'm optimistic that he can help me continue to effectively build my network.
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