Do you find yourself regularly checking your email or the LinkedIn web site for messages? Do you feel that the next message may be the one for your big career jump or company sale? Have you lost count of your connections? I have 4 important check-ups to help you assess your situation.
If you are a Job Seeker or career changer or a budding business manager who has more than 500 connections then yes, that is impressive and you may have earned each and every one of them. But if you have 500+ connections and they don’t do anything for you, then it’s likely that you are suffering from ‘L I L O S’ also commonly known as LinkedIn Loneliness Syndrome.
Despite the fact that LinkedIn has a reputation as being the networking site for professionals, most LinkedIn users rarely utilise what the site offers to get the most out of it. However, as they accrue more connections they tend to become increasingly hooked. They also become increasingly occupied with the management of their social media presence but they don’t necessarily achieve real relationships or meaningful connections. They are busy and they have lots of connections, but they are still pretty much alone.
Much like Facebook and Twitter and pretty much every networking site ever, the unspoken goal is to increase followers and connections, so much in some cases that it trumps the reasons why you’re even on the site in the first place. According to the Pew Report, LinkedIn users between the ages of 18-34 have on average 319 connections. (Ages 35-46 have 198, interestingly enough)
But how well do we know those 319 connections? There may be strength in numbers but that strength is completely useless when none of your connections interact with you, or worse, remember you. And that gets awkward fast if you want an introduction to a new connection (especially when you are working on your next career move) through an old connection and they can’t quite figure out how you wound up on their list in the first place.
So I suggest what rarely anyone will tell you:
Check #1 – Check and clean out your LinkedIn connections list
On the surface, that suggestion seems implausible, given we live in a culture where communication is increasingly based on social media. It seems like loneliness should be easily eradicated by simply going online, sharing a picture, updating your status, endorsing someone and using your ‘in-mails’, ‘likes’, ‘shares’ or ‘tweeting’ at someone.
And that’s exactly the problem. Shimi Cohen’s moving short film, The Innovation of Loneliness, will forever change the way you look at online technology and your personal relationships and eventually even your engagement with your LinkedIn profile.
If this presentation did not convince you, you might think I mean making a day out of the task, carving your average 319 to an elitist handful. Don’t take it that far. That sort of move only works for celebrities on Twitter who have a huge fan following. But in the world of business and professional networking, job seeking and career changing and all the other important professional activity, ask yourself the following questions.
Check #2 – Why did you connect in the first place?
As the JobSearchCoach, I work with a lot of white collar Job Seekers and executives and “linking up” is easy and fast to do. When making a connection with a person who may be vaguely known to you, it’s important to clarify who you are first.
We all interact with many people every day and I’m sure that some firms work with multiple Joe’s and Lisa’s on a daily basis. I prefer to write a short personalised message (via email, not InMail), before inviting a contact to link up with me so they can recall who I am with a bit more ease. You’d be surprised at how many people respond back with genuine offers to go catch up over coffee together – and in the case that you may not have yet met the person in question, it’s a nice personal touch. You can, of course, just use the InMail, and have your 3 seconds of pleasure and confirmation when your counterpart connects. But that’s about all I suggest you will get in most cases, so choose the more personal style. If you can’t remember why you connected, reach out to your contact and see what’s new with them. If they don’t remember either and really don’t have anything to offer you, then you may need to clean them from your list.
The first step is introduction, then connection. Not the other way around.
Check #3 – Can the connection genuinely endorse you?
This is not a greedy or selfish thing to ask for, I am serious! …particularly if you’ve worked with said contact multiple times. It’s a case of scratching one another’s backs – LinkedIn is based on all of that referral stuff and besides you kind of need those recommendations for your profile. But manage it wisely and ensure that you don’t have 10 endorsements from the same person. That is much too obvious. Contact your connections and ask for meaningful and genuine endorsements and decline those that are repetitive and those that make no sense. I wouldn’t necessarily drop a connection from my list if they declined the offer, but you do want to start hunting down some of your connections who can provide great testimonials on your behalf. It looks a little strange to have 500+ professionals on your profile and no endorsements from any of them…
Check #4 – Are you a connection hoarder?
A common LinkedIn user mistake is to treat your connections like a deck of playing cards. You want the best possible hand and aim to get it and hold on to it at any cost. Even if it means adding someone you have never worked with or interacted with before or even live in the same country as. If you’re doing this, stop. During a job interview later on down the line, you may have an interviewer who shares one connection in common with you on LinkedIn.
Imagine what you would answer if this happened?
- 1) It will always be that one person you don’t know.
- 2) The interviewer will always want to know how you know them and what you worked on together.
You know what I am talking about? You see, it’s time to check and then chuck that hand, however excellent it may be, for a more familiar, but still solid deck. It’s just business or online social media – it’s not your life. And if you do it with integrity and consistency, then you will gain some real connections, some real friends and social media will be rewarding and manageable again.
If you have any other useful insight or comments on this share it with us and if you want to know more contact me here at TheJobSearchCoach. In the meantime, hunt wisely!