What’s Your Strategy for Accepting LinkedIn Invitations?

When your LinkedIn app fills up with connection invitations, what’s your strategy for deciding yes or no?

If you set a general framework for which you’ll accept, it will save time and result in a better network.

LinkedIn’s Catherine Fisher recommends in Business Insider connecting only with people you know and trust.

If you want an even higher bar, try Alexandra Samuel‘s “favor test.” She recommends only connecting with people whom you’d be willing to ask a favor of or do a favor for. Check out more in Harvard Business Review.

If someone takes the time to personalize an invitation to me with a well-articulated reason for wanting to connect, however, I will generally accept it.

But what about the ones with no personal note? The majority of these come from people I don’t know. Short of simply deleting all of them, sight unseen (which is certainly an efficient option), here’s my strategy:

 

ACCEPT

  • People who are fellow colleagues at my current or former employers (opinions expressed in this blog are my own)
  • People from my alma maters – students, alums, professors or staff members
  • People who belong to the same professional, community or civic groups that I do
  • People I attended a conference with, such as MAKERS or  TED
  • People who add to the diversity of my network on various dimensions, including industry, geography, career stage, functional area and so on

Personal branding expert William Arruda recommends diversity in a LinkedIn network, which links to a great perspective on its value.

  • People with an interesting background that catches my eye. It’s hard to articulate this one, but I know it when I see it.

 

CONSIDER

  • People who have common connections. This comes with a big caveat. An underlying rationale for the connections has to be evident.

Recently I declined invitations from people who had a high number of shared connections, but for which I couldn’t discern a compelling reason why. Often it was because they didn’t work in the same industry or even one that could be considered in some way related.

 

DECLINE

  • People with no clear connection to any areas of my work
  • Lack of clarity about what the person or their company does
  • A suspicious-looking profile, such as no last name listed or little information included in the profile
  • Anything appearing the slightest bit sales related. If I’m looking for a new vendor partner, I’ll go to my trusted network first for recommendations, not to random connections in LinkedIn.

 

This is my decision matrix, and it may give you some ideas for creating your own. This lets you quickly go through incoming invitations.

It frees up time to proactively create and cultivate your network by sending personalized invitations to a focused group of people.

What’s your strategy?

What’s Your Social Media Game in 2017?

It’s a new year. It’s time for a fresh set of goals. And it’s critical to think about them in novel and different ways.

In your professional life, how will you use social media to achieve your goals? How will you use social media to tell your story about your wins?

To start, think about how social media will change for professionals this year. Check out the post, along with Dorie ClarkAlexandra SamuelBryan Kramer and William Arruda for some fascinating ideas.

Then ask yourself these 4 questions to make your own social media game plan.

  • What are your company’s big goals? Is your CEO sharing the company strategy with employees this month or quarter? How about other C-suite leaders? Access any and all information, internal and external, about your company’s strategic plans for the year. Be clear on the top goals and the order of priority.
  • What are your team’s goals? How do the company goals translate into your department’s goals and ultimately your team’s goals? Where does your team help drive the strategy toward execution? What new and different approaches can you and your team try this year?
  • What are your professional goals? How do your team goals translate into your own professional goals? What do you need to accomplish this year? What stretch assignments do you want to tackle? On the development side, what do you want or need to learn? How will you accomplish that?
  • How will use use social media to achieve your goals and tell your story? Does social media play a role in achieving your goals? If it hasn’t before, could you incorporate it this year? When you achieve goals, how will you use social media to tell your story? What conferences are you attending? Where are you speaking? What are you blogging?

At this point, focus on “what” your goals will be. Don’t worry about the “how” at this point.

Why?

If you’re not sure about how to execute a goal, that can stand in the way of setting it in the first place. And just because you don’t exactly know how to do it, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

You’ve probably had many “first times” in your career. What did you do when your boss asked you to take on a new project, something you’d never done before? You can reflect on and use those experiences in the same way when you get to the “how” part of actually accomplishing your goals.

A former boss came to me some years ago and said the CEO wanted to do an employee engagement survey. My boss asked me to lead it.

That was beyond my role at the time as a corporate communications leader. There was a moment of terror, but after a few minutes it sounded like a fascinating project.

In thinking through the “how,” I realized I could build on the communications-related surveying I’d done, engage with experts and partners, create a team, map out a plan, execute it, learn and adjust as we went.

With so much information available online, you can research any topic and come up with ideas. Being able to figure it out is a skill that becomes more important every day.

I’m ever inspired by a talk that business leader Mark Cuban gave at my employer’s headquarters many years ago.

Most striking were his words about client meetings and commitments. A client would ask for something, and the group would agree it would be delivered the next day.

Later, Mark and his colleagues would look at each other and say they had no idea how to do what they’d just committed to. But they had all night to figure it out. And figure it out, they did. Time and time again.

If they could do it, so could I. And so can you.

For now, take some time to set your social media goals for the year.

Here are mine:

  • Amplify my employer’s social media strategy through its Social Circle, by sharing 3 posts each week.
  • Share appropriate highlights of my work in social media, by posting something at least 2 times a month.
  • Learn about how social media is changing and evolving, by listening to 5 podcasts each week during drive time.
  • Help others by sharing and commenting on their valuable content, at least 3 times a week.

Each goal is measurable, with a number attached to it. As the year goes on, I’ll assess if this is the right frequency or if tweaks need to be made.

None of my goals have anything to do with followers. In part that’s because I can’t completely control those numbers. Sure, the goals I’m pursuing are likely to attract followers. But I’m focused on actions I can 100% control on my own.

Here I’m influenced by Gary V‘s ideas on Building a Personal Brand, a Udemy course I finished today. One of the biggest takeaways? “Consistency almost trumps everything,” Gary says.

Another pearl from Gary? This one is for combating fear of failure: “Spend all your time in the in-between space, the time between starting and stopping.”

What’s your social media game plan for the year?

Don’t worry yet about the “how” of making it happen. “How” will be the subject of many future posts.