LinkedIn is a great social networking site for professionals to network with others for business, job hunting or just exchanging information.  When I arrived in my current location, it was apparent that the LinkedIn craze had not fully hit this region.

But as time went on, it became obvious that it was beginning to catch on.  In my locale, word of mouth marketing, referrals and networking are key drivers of business.  There are several groups like chambers of commerce, networking groups and business associations for business people to get together. Now, some people have begun to utilize LinkedIn as part of their networking and have forgotten one major principal for successful networking.

Networking gurus have used always words like know, like and trust as reasons why people do business with others. Yet, I have witnessed that some folks who are trying to connect on LinkedIn, use the standard, “I’d like to add you to my professional network” and that is it.  What part of know, like or trust are you exuding with the standard invite on LinkedIn?

Then, they take it one step further.  I have accepted invites of local business people that I don’t necessarily know, but know of.  These people have invited me to connect.  The key word here is connecting.  The dictionary says that connect, in this sense, means to develop a good rapport with someone.  So I accept the invite from the local business person and also respond that I would love to chat to learn more about their business to determine how we may be able to help each other.  In some cases this has been met with no response at all.  My question is “Well, why did they want to link up with me then?”

Social media sites like LinkedIn is still networking and some of the same rules apply.    If I met these people out in-person at a networking event, their actions on LinkedIn would go a little like this in person. “Hi, my name is so and so, here is my business card.”  I would respond by saying something like, “Good to meet you! Tell me more about yourself and your business.” And their response would be to walk away!

Networking is about building relationships and taking the time to be genuine, building trust and getting to know people and have them get to know you.  Don’t forget that LinkedIn is a form of networking and the same rules still apply.