The guys and gals who are smarter than I am in the space we call social media are saying the business card as we know it will be a museum artifact very soon. As archaic as the act of exchanging physical business cards may feel to some of us, I think the power of doing just that has been enhanced exponentially by what that business card represents.
Keep that thought in mind as I shift gears slightly to the concept or idea of the WIP (work-in-process) LinkedIn connection.
Many of you know (because you have attended one of my beginner classes or read my book) I have been a big proponent of your first-level LinkedIn connections being people you trust. This is also LinkedIn’s definition of what the site is designed for. My definition of trust is and has always been the following:
- Do I know them?
- Do I love them?
- Do I care about them?
- If they called, would I take the call and help them?
But I have also always been a big proponent of the WIP LinkedIn connection and have encouraged people to pursue this tactic as a way to grow their network very strategically. It works this way.
Let’s say you are attending a networking event or a convention, and you do your usual thing of picking up a pocketful of business cards. You hope at least one of those cards represents the start of a new relationship that will lead to more business. After all, that is the reason you went to the event in the first place, right?
After the event, you pull out one special card and wonder if that individual actually liked the conversation you had with them as much as you did and whether they look forward to building a relationship that will go past the beer or plate of snacks you shared.
I am suggesting your next move should be to invite the person into your LinkedIn network as a “work-in-process connection.” By sending this invitation, you are saying:
- I liked you. Did you like me?
- I think we can help each other.
- I look forward to taking this relationship to a deeper level.
- Through me, people in my network are available to you if they can help you.
LinkedIn helps you quickly move the relationship to a level of trust (and ultimately usefulness) because of the following techniques or features:
- The details on a person’s profile can give you tremendous insight about their history and interests — information you probably didn’t learn while drinking a beer with them.
- By reviewing the groups the person belongs to, you can see not only who they like to hang out with but what they find interesting in both their work life and their personal life.
- You can now see who they know and trust by scrolling through their first-level connections. This could prove to be very valuable.
Wow. All of this detailed information about the person, plus the ability to ask for an introduction to anyone in their network, came out of collecting one business card. That is what I call powerful.