Social networking – but with whom …?

29
Jan

Within The Way Ahead, I must admit to being somewhat `cautious’ when approached by people I don’t know/haven’t heard of who wish to connect with me. Am I right or wrong?

Have a look at the article below (from People Management) about the `hidden’ benefits of social networking!

CIPDAccidentally sending out hundreds of LinkedIn requests could be the push you need to boost your networking skills

It’s the ultimate social networking horror story. She claims she doesn’t know how she did it. One minute, she was happily browsing LinkedIn and sending out connection invitations to a selected group on new contacts.

The next minute, she’d sent an invitation to everyone in her Gmail address book – everyone she’d ever contacted, and, more embarrassingly, all the people in her company she’d never contacted.

Cue crashing waves of shame and social anxiety. “Oh no, I emailed that guy from IT I spoke to one time! And all the senior managers! What are they going to think of me?!”

When I get a LinkedIn request from someone I’ve never spoken to before, I run through a quick mental checklist: does this person look real? Do they work in my field, or have connections or skills in common with me? And do they look like they might be useful in the future?

Get three yeses and you’re in my secret circle. Otherwise, it’s thanks but no thanks from me.

But maybe my view is years out of date in this world of constant networking and contact cultivation. My friend – for this tale isn’t just an urban legend – got an avalanche of ‘yeses’. From the guy in IT, the senior manager she spoke to occasionally but would never have the courage to connect with otherwise, and that women whose face looked vaguely familiar and maybe she sat next to on the bus once.

“How do I make it stop?” she texted me. “There are so many emails!” Before she knew it, her LinkedIn connection count had passed the magic 500+ mark.

And not only were these acquaintances rushing to be part of her network, many were also looking strengthen their ties with her. Old colleagues asked what she was up to now, university friends reminisced about old days on campus and industry contacts enquired about mutual friends.

So what started out as an embarrassing, instantly regretted click of the finger turned out to be a novel way of invigorating forgotten connections and forging new ones. Although I’m not quite brave enough to take the ‘connect with everyone and anyone’ approach to networking, I’ll certainly think twice about accepting that unsolicited invitation in future.

Cathryn Newbery (PM Today)

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