Some time ago I wrote about the LinkedIn Open Networker (LION) Are You A Lion?My thought was that the concept had merit BUT it lacked the personal connection I felt necessary to make referrals work.
Recently, while doing a presentation about networking, the LION conversation came up. A gentleman in the audience (who by the way I have a good deal of respect for) stated that he accepts all invitations to connect, LinkedIn or otherwise. I cannot recall his precise words but essentially he noted that every connection has potential value, whether we know them or not. He got me thinking that maybe I had been too quick to judge. After all, I have judged far too many books by the cover and have later learned that my instincts are not all that I hoped them to be.
To cut to the chase I am confident that I am NOT the king of the forest. The LION life is not for me. In my business, building trust is essential and this is not done without knowledge of each other. I cannot build trust simply by accepting an invitation to connect. However, I do not want to pass up legitimate opportunity, especially when it is right in front of me.
So here's what I do: when I receive a request to connect from someone I do not know I suggest either a phone or face to face conversation to "get to know each other." For those that agree to follow-up I am always willing to connect. For those that do not agree, I ignore the request. On average I get about 15 such requests each week; typically, 1-2 of those folks agree to chat.
Perhaps I am being a bit selective but then again isn't that what this is all about?