I Made A Professional Connection: Now What?

I’m very lucky to receive multiple LinkedIn requests to connect each week. I rarely accept them, unless I happen to recognize or know the person. Also, if they have a compelling message and I think they might follow up, then fine, too. But that’s where it usually ends…

I am really saddened to see these high-and-mighty people complaining about getting spammed on LinkedIn by people wanting to connect or offer them jobs. Sure, there is a lot of non-qualified leads, but you should be happy that you’re getting these options. At the time of writing (April, 17), the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there is 4.4% unemployment in the United States. In 2015, there are about 325 million people - which means that 13 million people roughly are unemployed. And you’re sitting here complaining about people offering you jobs that these people would die for. Get off it. Ok, rant over.

So - what’s the problem here? Well, the problem is that people connect with you, and then seem to disappear. This is especially common on LinkedIn versus other connection platforms. You’ve connected with me - now what? Time for you to make use of this connection. I’m probably not thinking of checking out all of your postings, mainly because I didn’t think to connect with you. You did with me.

This is especially common with the students at the local colleges I work with. They politely comment me, suggesting I might be a mentor, but they never say much after that initial connection.

Say Something More

First of all, keep up the conversation. Find out something that is of interest to your new connection, post it on their wall, message them, something. Don’t just connect and disappear. You might say “I have nothing to talk about” - which is a) most likely not true and b) if it were true, then why did you decide to share your boringness with the new connection? Of course I’m joking here, but the point is - you thought highly enough about yourself that you felt you deserved to make this connection, so that must mean you have something of value to offer - specially in the form of conversation.

Offer Something for Free

Speaking of having something to offer, figure out if there is something that your new connection needs, and offer to do it for them. You might even message them that you’d love to help them, give a few suggestions, or ask if they have something that you could do for them. More often than not, people are willing to get a little ‘free’ help. But again, you’ve made the connection with this person, so they must be valuable to you for some reason. Because of this, some of that, whatever it is, will probably be shared with you while you work on their projects or review things together with them.

Now I’m not advocating doing free work forever, or spending all of your life being busy - but I can just think about it for myself. If someone connected with me and said “what do you need? I like developing mobile apps - is there anything I can do to help you?” - I have a ton of todos that I can’t get to. In fact, you’d most likely get involved with a lot of the supporting technologies to that app, so you’d get to learn a lot more for your “free” work.

It’s OK to Ask For Help

In the same way that people like to have “free work,” they do like to offer their opinion and their help as well. Especially people who are further on in their career; think of it as legacy development, ego, or just the joy of giving back. It’s ok to ask for help here and there. But, don’t abuse it. Make it something interesting. Use common sense - don’t be selfish. You can pick up the cues if you pay attention.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Do This

Don’t just connect, and disappear. It wasn’t worth connecting, then. Make it worthwhile.

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