I’ve stated often that LinkedIn is simply a tool that you can use to enhance your networking and grow your business, but alone it is simply an interesting application. By itself you can definitely conduct a successful job search. You can gain insightful information through the Answers section. You can even build credibility through generating Recommendations. All are positive outcomes.
From a networking perspective, though, the average person is not likely to experience success on any scale if LinkedIn is their sole method. Many people connect, not many monetize their connections. To do that requires that you build relationships, and most relationships require some face-to-face time. It’s not necessary that the face-to-face come first. In fact LinkedIn can be a tool that jump starts your face-to-face networking.
For the first year and a half in my chamber I met many people, had countless cups of coffee, and some of those people could actually remember what is that I do for a living. Six months ago I started using LinkedIn to enhance my chamber networking and today I know 10 times as many people in my chamber and that many know me. A larger percentage who remember what I do.
LinkedIn keeps me in touch with my network. On my LI home page I see who is connecting, see what they are currently working on, and have a quick reference if I am ever unclear as to what an individual does and how they can help me or one of my client’s.
Las Friday I sat down with Ron Sklamm who I did not meet at the chamber event that he attended. After the event I went through the copy of business cards that everyone gets to see who attended that I was not already connected to. Ron’s card was on the list and I invited him to connect based on what he does. Within a couple of days we set a time to meet.
We had a good conversation and there are some definite opportunities that we may be able to work together down the road. More than likely it will be a couple of months before that happens, but in the mean time LinkedIn will allow me to stay connected to Ron.
Ron told me that he likely will not join the chamber so I will not see him on an ongoing basis. Without first extending the connection invite, it is likely that we would have never met. Using LinkedIn helped me enhance my networking. It’s helping me extend my networking. But, without that face-to-face meeting, he would just be a name on a list.
If you have people that you are connected to that you have not met, you are wasting opportunity. If there are people you did not meet an event use LinkedIn as a way to do so. When I look at some of my most recent client’s it’s getting harder to determine whether or not it was the Chamber or LinkedIn that helped create the success. Likely, it is a combination of both.
Did the chicken or the egg come first? I don’t care, as long as a new client hatched I’m ok with either.