For over a decade I despised LinkedIn. I resisted setting up an account. I ignored friends’ suggestions that it would be good for my career. I happily deleted unsolicited emails asking me to connect. And I rejoiced when I heard stories about people leaving the platform.
And then I got a new job. A job for which I’m qualified at least in part because of connections I’ve made in my previous work history.
A job in which I’m required to reach out to these contacts. And develop new ones.
I’m now a LinkedIn devotee. I scour the My Network page to see who I can connect with that will be a good contact to have – and who could possibly introduce me to someone else I should k
now. I’ve come to appreciate the value in knowing their work history, their previous experiences, their educational background. If nothing else, it makes it easier to start a conversation.
And I’m finding that conversation is best done in person. Reaching out is important, but meeting face to face is critical. Usually, there is a bit of reconnaissance that goes into preparing for the first meeting. Often it’s checking out their Twitter feed and/or Facebook pages to get a feel for their interests and their attitudes.
So LinkedIn and coffee are now my two main tools for developing relationships with key partners. It’s definitely a simple strategy, but it seems to be working.
I’ve been able to reconnect with people I haven’t spoken with in a while, catch up on what they’ve been up to, and let them know where I’m at. So it’s been good professionally, but also personally. It’s always nice to see old friends again.
In the coming months there are individuals I know it will be crucial for my organization to develop a relationship with. My goal is to establish these connections – and make them meaningful and productive. I don’t just want to have coffee with these people. I want something to come out of it.
If I’d known what I know now, I would have created a LinkedIn profile when I first entered the workforce. And I would have connected to everyone I met along the way. Obviously, I can’t redo it. But I can start now and build from there.
And Ottawa’s a small town. It shouldn’t be too hard to connect.