On 10/16, Casey Lockwood sent me this LinkedIn invitation. “Hi Rick,
A huge fan of what you’re doing. Know Pete Caputa, Corey Beale, and Mark R. as well.
Would love to connect professionally.
– Casey Lockwood” To which I replied, “Have we ever met or spoken?” The ensuing exchange resulted in this guest post. Enjoy!
Digital, social connectivity has changed the way we relate, refer, and reach out to our professional network. It has transformed the way we make friends, acquire skills, get jobs, ascend the corporate ladder and build relationships. While there are an overwhelming number of opportunities that this new connectivity presents, the onus is on us to pick up the reins and run with it.
Earned or not, we’ve all been given a microphone to use at will. For young professionals like myself, this is truly a blessing, but it is also a curse. With unlimited power comes unlimited possibilities to mis-step, and our digital world forgets little.
Understanding that this new “connected economy” is a powerful tool for young business professionals, a plan is essential.
In the past, a connection with thought-leaders and mentors required attendance to expensive trade shows, ivy league schools, luck, or bribery. Today, that connection is simply a click away. Access is no longer problem and bribery is probably inappropriate.
As I begin to grow my career in sales, I’ve built up a “dream team”. People that I feel have the insights, perspective and intelligence that align with my beliefs, complement my motivations, and have the potential to make me better. For all intents and purposes, I will attempt to cultivate mentors a masterful arbitrage scenario of self-support and sales domination. Joking aside, I truly feel as though I’ve identified some professional shortcomings and am trying to put people in my corner that can help me focus and improve on those weaknesses.
I wanted to highlight a few field notes from my personal experiences over the past few months:
Be Honest, Be Open, and Smile
It’s intimidating to blindly send a message to someone and ask for a relationship. It’s sort of like speed-dating with people that don’t know they’re playing the game.
I was feverishly reading blog posts and looking through shared connections with my “targets” in order to find common ground. Anything that illustrates “Why” you want to reach out and “How” you came across their profile will help.
An example of this is Rick Roberge
. I found Rick’s Linkedin profile
and invited him to connect by relaying some shared contacts and context. I crafted a message outlining my intentions, renegotiated my smiley face emoticon a handful of times, finally deciding to omit (smart decision) and hit send.
I was positive that I wanted to connect with Rick, but to my surprise, Rick was not only willing, but eager to connect with me as well.
This was not an “ask and you shall receive” situation, however. Rick would connect professionally, but he wanted something in return. THIS, is what I see as the transformative nature of social networking. It’s not about acquiring likes, hits, followers or comments; it’s about the relationship. It is, after all, a network
. Try to emulate the way you nurture, engage, and maintain the other relationships in your life. They take some time, they require a bit of giving, but they’re worth their weight in gold.
So what did Rick want in return?
- He wanted to know WHY I wanted to connect.
- He wanted to know that he could trust me; To know and fully believe that he can connect me with his network for the benefit of both parties.
In short, he wanted to know how he could help me, and to that, I needed an answer.
Always have a plan. Always know why you are taking each step. Always have a desired outcome but be prepared to adjust on the fly, and give back as much as you get. A direct monetary goal is probably a bad one. It will cloud your decision-making, taint your message, and overall feel wrong. My networking goals today are about learning, and that goal drives the way I interact on social networks.
Make sure your profile is polished: Your profile is a lot like your resume’ today. It’s a better snap shot of who you are, it’s more up to date, and it shows your skills within the context of a greater community. Make sure your profile is complete, polished, professional, but more importantly, personal. Honesty is always appreciated, make your profile your own.
Stick the Landing:
What’s the worst that could happen? If there’s one thing I’ve learned in sales it’s that the worst case scenario is a “No”. I can live with that. I can continue to put my best foot forward, and the future will continue to be better and brighter.
This particular connection had a direct outcome, this blog post and to that I’m quite thankful to Rick. Follow through with requests and promises. Every interaction can go positive or negative depending on how that relationship is managed.
An open mind, a smile and a goal will not always get you what you want, but it has the potential to open doors in almost every aspect of your life.
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