I receive a fair amount of requests for LinkedIn recommendations, and I usually oblige without hesitation. However, a recent e-mail from an old colleague made me realize there are plenty of “networkers” out there who just don’t get it.
“Yo, would you give me some props for that time we volunteered at SunLight.”
I thought he was kidding. But unfortunately, he wasn’t.
Here are two important facts you should know about my business relationship with this guy:
I haven’t heard from him in years.
We barely worked together.
His request of a recommendation was awful, there was zero effort applied. Apparently I’m only worth 14 words of this guy’s time.
(If you want to know how he could have taken a better approach to asking for a recommendation, you can read my advice on asking for LinkedIn recommendations.)
If only this “dear friend” of mine knew about the new LinkedIn Contact product.
Had he known, he may have received more than a laugh from me. He may have actually gotten his recommendation.
All LinkedIn users need to follow these three tips to stay current and ask for help more skillfully.
Oh, if you don’t have the new Contact app, you can sign up for the beta release.
1. Understand Not All Contacts Are Created Equal
In her book, Is Your “Net” Working, Anne Boe suggests you categorize the people in your network into one of eight possible choices:
Keystones: The core of your network.
Experts: The people you respect in your field.
Tangential Helpers: The people who help you get your job done.
Mentors: The people who provide you with guidance.
Role Models: The people who have achieved what you are aspiring to.
Hubs: The people who connect you with other helpful people.
Challengers: The people who cause you to look at your direction and challenge your assumptions.
Promoters: The people who recommend you to opportunities.
With LinkedIn Contacts, use the Tagging feature (see below) to put your connections into one of these eight categories.
Ask yourself, “Who do I need to stay in touch with? Which category can I apply?”
2. Set Contact Reminders
My friend’s failed request came out of nowhere. Yet, I’m also sensitive to the fact he probably has an above average network.
How can he possibly stay in touch with everyone, right?
(Glad to know I’m somewhere at the bottom. LinkedIn is probably a numbers game for him.)
Well, don’t wait until you need something to touch base with your network. That’s poor practice and is usually pretty obvious. Instead, use LinkedIn’s Reminder feature to remind you to consistently stay in touch.
Rule-of-Thumb: You should reach out to your most important contacts at least once every 30 days. Other contacts don’t need to hear from you more than once every few months.
Before you forget, go into your contact’s list and set these reminders for yourself.
3. Pick Up Where You Left Off
With LinkedIn Contacts, the e-mails sent to that person can be found in their profile. This is what it looks like:
This means you can pick up where you left off in your last conversation.
For example, three years ago, this friend of mine and I were talking about creating a website together. The platform never materialized but our idea seems to have become popular, kind of an ironic and fun shared experience.
Tip: By linking together past conversations with your latest notes, you help the contact see the nature of your relationship. Your connections are busy (like you) so they may need gentle reminders about why they’re linked up with you.