Turning Your Virtual Relationships into ‘Real” Ones

Whenever, I launch LinkedIn and look at updates from everyone in my network, most of what I see is – this one is connected to that one, someone joined a group, added a photo or updated his/her profile.  The numbers of people who are posting something substantial that helps me gain knowledge or provides a new idea to pursue are far less frequent. As I write this blog, only 6 out of the 14 updates on my LinkedIn update screen (43%) meet the latter criteria This got me thinking, “What are we all trying to accomplish by Link(ing)In and expanding our networks?”  In a previous blog in this series – You Gotta Have a Strategy / February 5th - I suggested you develop a social media strategy before embarking on the journey of connecting with everyone in the universe.  Hopefully you have given this some thought and are considering putting my suggestions to use. The third tip in this series is prompted by a recent phone call I initiated with someone who I “met” in a LinkedIn group where I was posting reactions to a question posed by the owner of that group.  Think about how many connections you have, and of those individuals, the actual number you ever “talk to”.  Yes you might post opinions, headlines and links on your page and even get some reactions and virtual recognition for putting forth a good idea.  I ask however – “How many people in your far-flung network have you actually spoken to “real time?”  Of course there are those you talk to in your immediate circle of friends and colleagues (who may also be connected to you on Facebook) but how many others have you actually reached out to on the telephone to learn more about them. I tried this for the first time today calling a person I met in a group and was amazed how this individual’s LinkedIn profile expanded from my computer screen into a “real” person.  Of course the fact that we were both learning & development professionals catalyzed the outreach but after hanging up I was amazed at what we accomplished by briefly talking (not to mention referring them to others in my network I would have not thought about before our conversation). In keeping with the Social Media Tip Parade theme here are some ways to put this into practice:

  • Actively participate in LinkedIn groups of interest to you (see February 4th blog on “Participating in LinkedIn Groups)
  • If someone seems to be credible and is posting interesting ideas, specifically respond to them by name in future comments you post (agree, disagree, expand upon, etc.)
  • Eventually connect with them directly by sending an invitation (remember you can do this without a referral because you belong to the same group)
  • Decide if a telephone conversation would be in both your interests
  • Send them an e-mail directly from your account (not from within LinkedIn) suggesting why you might think it would be advantageous for you to talk “real time.”
  • DO NOT only think about What’s In It for Me but also consider their WIIFM.
  • Of course in this age of Internet scams and phishing schemes do not be offended if the person doesn't respond. However, keep in mind that one’s willingness to talk with you is based on a common professional foundation.

Let me know if you find these tips helpful by posting comments, reactions or additional ideas at the bottom of this posting.  If you want to be automatically notified of future Social Media Tip Parade postings click on the FOLLOW(+) tab in the lower right hand corner of the screen and enter your e-mail address.


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