Should We Connect With Strangers In Social Networking?

by Paul Castain on February 7, 2011

There has been a lot of talk lately on the old “If you don’t know someone that invites you to their network, should you accept the invite” thing.

If you would have asked me that question just a short time ago, I would have been one of the people saying “hell no”.

Then the weirdest thing happened . . .

I changed my philosophy.

I no longer feel I need to know someone to accept their invite because I now feel that the purpose of accepting the invite is to begin a courtship to know each other.

But . . .

Its really nervy for a stranger to ask me to connect.

Lighten up Francis!

It’s “Social” Networking. People will sometimes try to be “Social” with you. Bastards!

And let’s stop reacting to this like a stranger just asked us to join them in a threesome. Its an invite which in my version of “Social” Networking means its an opportunity to get to know them.

It’s a courtship dude. Nobody is asking you marry them just yet.

But . . .

I won’t accept an invite unless I have met them or spoken with them first

Thanks to all of us getting burned by people who have used those opportunities to launch into an obnoxious  infomercial and a little thing called “not having enough hours in the day” this approach isn’t practical for many people.

And while a “connection” “friend” etc is useless until we transition to real time, I believe we might be putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

But . . .

There’s no possible way you can know all your connections if you have a lot of them!

Why couldn’t I treat this like a prospecting funnel (but on steroids) where I begin with a suspect with a goal of converting that suspect.

Do you really know someone at the suspect level or does that happen as you work your way through the funnel?

Also, you need to remember that you don’t have to know everyone to influence them or influence them to pass along your info, content etc to their network. And quite unselfishly, you don’t have to know everyone to be of value to them which in essence helps build brand equity!

Does your company know everyone it sends those email blasts and direct mail pieces to?

But isn’t it better to be more targeted in your approach?

I almost want to reject the question.

Why can’t I do both once again keeping in alignment with that funnel concept?

But . . .

I get put off when it is clear that they are just trying to accumulate connections.

Get passed that. I see it as a free lottery ticket with zero chance of winning if I ignore it.

And here’s the thing folks, just because it might seem like we can’t do business today, doesn’t mean that we can’t do business tomorrow.

Case in point. At the beginning of this year Linkedin sent me an email stating that approximately 350 people in my network changed jobs.

Is it possible that that change could result in new opportunities?

Is it possible that that change now puts them in front of new people that could use my product or service?

Now I want to be clear, I see people running around Linkedin bragging about how many connections they have.

I’m not saying we should morph into that . . . in fact, please don’t!

I’m just inviting you to consider an approach that opens you up to additional opportunities.

And should you disagree, that’s perfectly fine.

That’s the beauty of social networking, we can all create the version that works best for us!

Check out Paul’s 90 page social networking e-Book by clicking here!

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