As an entrepreneur or small company, your critical first step is getting access to companies where you want to do a deal. LinkedIn is a great access tool, but only if used properly. Quality connections are much more important than quantity. In fact, quantity without quality actually hurts you. Here is how.
A powerful use of LinkedIn is finding people you know that connect you to people in companies you want to do a deal with. Stephanie Sammons has a great post on how to do this. From Stephanie’s post, here is a screenshot example of a successful search finding shared connections in a company.
You see various decision makers and in the company and, good news, you have one shared connection.
This tells you exactly who you know that connects you to the person in the company you want to know. Bingo! You can call or write your friend for a qualified introduction. Very powerful….provided you actually know the person.
And here in lies the problem.
People connect on LinkedIn for seemingly no reason. This can hurt you when you do the above search. If you’ve connected to me without knowing me, you’ll see me as your shared connection. What good does that do you if we don’t know each other? I ask friends who seem to be connected to key people for introductions and they turn out not to know them all the time. It is frustrating and a waste of everyone’s time.
I propose the following litmus test when deliberating whether to connect to someone. Imagine writing an email to the person asking for an intro per the above scenario. What would you say? You have to be able to complete this sentence:
Dear XYZ, we [met, corresponded, spoke] two years ago at [fill in the blank occasion, event or opportunity]. We spoke of [fill in the blank]. I am writing because I saw you are connected to [a key contact you found on LinkedIn] and was wondering if I could get an introduction…
If you are not going to be able to complete the above, they may not be a good candidate to connect to.
Here are people I connect to:
- Colleagues and investors at companies I work at
- People I meet and have meaningful conversations with (that I’d be able to recall and I hope I make a good enough impression that they would too)
At a trade show, I’ll connect with the people I had a good conversations with, but I wouldn’t take our entire lead list from our booth and connect to a bunch of people I didn’t even meet.
You get the idea.
By doing so, you’ll build a powerful network that you can actually use to provide access to companies you want to do a deal with.
So, if I don’t accept your LinkedIn connect request, now you know why.