My LinkedIn Strangers

Intuition or Reason
August 30, 2015
When in Rome…Act Normal
October 29, 2015

One man, one carriage and one horsepower to deliver a letter to a friend. A long time ago, those were requirements to get in touch with an acquaintance of that friend, a second-degree contact. The theory of 6 degrees of separation is almost 100 years old, LinkedIn is more than 10 years and I don’t want to depend on one messenger with one horsepower. I am now connecting with people on LinkedIn I actually don’t know.


You Still Have A Choice
While I am reaching out to strangers, I am also not randomly inviting everybody. I look for people with shared interests, and, of course, people who I might want to do business with. I may be ignored. It is OK. But if an opportunity comes up that I want to share or I need help with, I am going to activate my 1st degree contacts. That is a lot of horsepower.

The Power Of Referral
Don’t get me wrong. The power of someone actually referring you to someone else is extremely powerful. In fact, it is in my mind one of the key elements of success in international business and I have a strong preference for face-to-face meetings. But that is not a reason to avoid connecting with perfect strangers on LinkedIn. Quite the contrary.

Apologies To The Ignored
Over the last decade I have ignored people who spontaneously invited me on LinkedIn. I guess I owe an apology to some, but at the same time, frankly, maybe not to everyone. To me LinkedIn is and remains a professional network.

The Strength Of Weak Ties
In his book ‘Tipping Point’ Malcolm Gladwell describes ‘The Strength Of Weak Ties’, a research by Mark Granovetter (a professor at Stanford University). The 1973 study showed that the majority of people got jobs through a personal connection. Of those connections, most were weak ties (they hardly saw each other). I know, they at least saw them once in while. But this is 2015, not 1973. I have sent a LinkedIn invite to Granovetter.

The Same Thing Differently
It is exactly 10 ago since I joined LinkedIn. Until recently I was firm by only connecting with people that were already first degree connections, in other words, people who I met at least once. But I am in International Business and expanding my network in the traditional way would mean trading the horse for an airplane. Is it not time to do the same thing differently?

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