LinkedIn Contacts Require a Closer Look

imagesThere I was, minding my own business on LinkedIn last week, and I got distracted by a pop-up window asking me if I wanted to connect with several people who I knew. One of them, a woman I have known for decades yet haven’t seen for years, was included in the list. I thought how nice it would be to reconnect, so I sent the LinkedIn request. She accepted my invitation within a day. What happened next caught me by surprise.

You see, I sent her a follow-up LinkedIn private message, telling her how glad I was that we were reconnected through LinkedIn and how “easy” it would be for us to get together for coffee or lunch. (I remembered that she and I lived on the same side of town.) Now comes the kicker. Her response was simply how she would love to get together but I may have to wait a while…a few years…because she and her husband were living on their sailboat in Belize. Wow.

I learned a very important lesson: Sometimes we may think we know the people in our LinkedIn network and then we discover we don’t know them at all. It got me thinking. How often do you review¬†your LinkedIn network of contacts? I mean really review who is in your network, where they are, what they are doing, their background, their interests?

When I began my career several decades ago, people often measured your level of influence based on the size of your Rolodex*. Power came with volume. The more contacts, the bigger the Rolodex. The bigger the Rolodex, the greater the influence. Today, that level of influence is measured by the number of LinkedIn contacts, Twitter followers or Facebook friends you have. The landscape has changed.

So when I received this message from my colleague in Belize, I smiled and said to myself, “How cool is this? Here I am, sitting in my home office in Ohio and she’s sitting on her boat halfway around the world and we are connecting through technology.” It just goes to show you, you can connect and reconnect with people in your network at any time, anywhere in the world.

How often do you review your LinkedIn network? Who needs to be included? Who can you reconnect with through a simple email, phone call or text? What’s your plan? Your network awaits you.

*Rolodex (definition): For those of you who are too young to remember, the Rolodex system is a unique way of alphabetically “filing” business contact information (name, title, company, etc.) on individual physical cards placed within a metal holder for easy retrieval. Created in 1956, the word Rolodex comes from combining the words “rolling” and “index.” I’m sure you can still find them in some people’s offices today.