“Thank you for the invitation, but who are you?” Unfortunately this is becoming more common. Now, the tools to help us connect with the people we do know are great. Thank goodness they are there, they help us keep up to date, as well as to learn more about potential partners and associates. A credible network based on real relationships is of far greater value than one that is purely numbers.
In the past month I have been asked to write a recommendation for someone that I am in the same network (of 6000+ members), but have not met personally. I have been asked to connect to individuals that like my profile, but have no direct relationship with. Today I got invited to attend a seminar on how to maximise presence on social networks by someone boasting 2000+ LinkedIn contacts. Now, some people are social butterflies and maybe this person has an incredible memory for the people he speaks with at conferences. But if someone was to ask him for a reference about each of those people, could he honestly provide an accurate account of what they are like as a professional peer, potential employee or partner?
Maintain a quality network. Do not degrade the value of your network simply for looking connected. Instead, Link when you meet people and feel that you have made a connection. Link while the connection is fresh. Nurture that connection by building it into a relationship beyond the link. E-mail to follow-up your conversation, and keep them in mind as you continue your paths. Something that you discussed in that first interaction might come up along the way and be worth sharing. Take the two minutes to pass it on. When someone contacts them down the line asking about you, they will certainly have a better recall than digging for your LinkedIn page to see who you are. You never know, they might even become both a friend and business partner in the process.