I get LinkedIn connection requests all the time, and frequently from people I have never met. My philosophy connection starts with the value of my network – I want to connect with others who who will endorse me, say good things about me, and help me succeed. I don’t need a bigger list of connections – because if I cannot remember who the other person is, they probably cannot recognize my name either – and they probably won’t recommend me.
I get requests from CEOs on other continents – I turn them down, as I don’t know them. I get requests to connect from an oil and gas executive in Texas, and I doubt that he would ever open his office to me. I get requests from students in the Philippines, and I don’t believe we will ever have a real conversation. I pass on connections like these.
Sometimes I get connection requests from business people in the same county as me, with several connections between us. Will I connect with that person? I make this a case-by-case consideration. Recently, a man named “Terrell” asked to connect with me.
I considered connecting with Terrell. He had a vast network of connections. We had several business connections in common. He was in the same county as me. We could certainly start a business relationship by talking to each other face to face, and building up from there.
We set a date. I chose the Paradise Bakery in Tempe, as this was close to his work and convenient for one of my appointments. On the appointed day, Terrell sent me a note. “Can’t make it. I have a headache.” Of course, I texted back, telling him that I hoped for his recovery, and we would make it another day.
Two weeks later, on the same day of the week, at the same place (remember, convenient for Terrell) I arrived at the meeting place. Terrell wasn’t there. I sent him a note. He apologized, “I had sudden business come up,” he wrote. We tried a third time.
And the third time, I called Terrell when he did not arrive. “Oh sorry,” he said. “It’s a busy season for me,” he offered. I wasn’t pleased.
I dropped Terrell as a connection. He had proved that he was an unreliable business contact. I never got an apology for the effort it took to schedule successive meetings, drive early to another city, or for the wasted time. He never offered to meet me closer to my work.
Two weeks ago, I received another connection request from Terrell. I did not spend much time on the issue; this time, I deleted the request, and sent a note to LinkedIn, “I don’t know Terrell.”
I’m selective. I want real connections, people who will listen to me, tell me something I don’t know, or willing to chat on the phone. Relationships are important to me. If I connect with you, I see potential there that goes beyond a high social media score. I count this as an act of leadership. I dare to ask for real relationships. I want both of us to be successful, and I’ll say exactly that.
Think about the ground rules as you build your network. A few foundational rules can build a system that will work for you, strengthen your reputation, and accelerate your business activity.
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Steve Broe is an executive coach and author. He lives in Scottsdale Arizona. He answers the question, “How does leadership help people become successful?” in his new book, Leading the Way Up Mt. Olympus, now available on Amazon.