Are you afraid of LinkedIn?

(135 million+ LinkedIn professionals around the world as of November 3, 2011)

I attended a recent networking event and chatted with business people, who were there because like me they would like more business.  I was taken aback a little when 2 people that I spoke to out of the 5 that I met, who shared with me that they were "afraid" of LinkedIn.

I use the term "afraid" on purpose because, when I asked them whether they were on LinkedIn, which is a standard question I ask every business person I meet, their faces filled with horror and then they shared with me the reasons why they either weren't there or why they were very very careful who they connected to.

Maybe I am the naive one, but my philosophy with Social Media is to either be active in it and play full out or stay out of the game, you can't be half in and choose when to come out and play and when to stay at home.

But it got me thinking, maybe there are more of you out there, who are "afraid" also, so I wanted to write this article to appeal to your more liberal side, the part of you that has courage and is willing to take a few risks, because you know you've got that part inside of yourself, don't you?

Here are the "fears" that were raised with me today:

  • People who I have never met or spoken to, ask to be connected to me on LinkedIn, why?
  • They tell me that they are wishing to grow their networks; well they are pulling me into the same mindset and I do not wish to be part of it!
  • I am very choosey who I connect to, because I only wish to be connected to people, who I have met and I have got to know them and what they are about
  • What if they start calling my contacts and telling them that they know me, when really they do not?

And I am sure there could have been more.  The real reason for the "fear" is actually ignorance and I don't mean that in a negative way, I actually believe it is really positive, because there is a fantastic opportunity to educate people.

I consider LinkedIn as my virtual business networking database.  LinkedIn is actually very ethical, it is run with the same principles as face to face networking and yes of course it is ideally best to have met that person or at least to have spoken to them.  However business is a numbers game and in order to have some influence in your business community you do need to connect with people who can be in your circle of influence.

It is good to build a relationship with people who you have not yet met face to face and yes try and do that even if you are only connected virtually.  Actually LinkedIn is so transparent, they can learn about you, your history, your experience, your business goals and learn so much more, which you would never be able to share at a face to face networking event.

We all need to do more with less, so LinkedIn is the perfect vehicle to network, without the expense of attending networking events, breakfasts, lunches etc.  It is becoming more acceptable to do things virtually and of course I appreciate it's not everyone's "cup of tea".

We need you all to start getting into the game and changing your mindset, because this is only going to continue to grow and we would like you to be there with us and be part of the journey.

There is a huge amount to know about LinkedIn and I have witnessed the massive changes it has undergone in the past few years, which I promise you will continue, especially as they have gone public now.

Below I have shared my own network stats on LinkedIn and you can see the reach you can have with only a few connections.  They say that the level below your direct contacts are where your real business opportunities lie.  You can see that I have 365,000 connections that are 2 degrees away from me.  That's just unbelievable and I could never imagine that I would be connected to so many people.  However if you notice carefully Linkedin, presents a small box to you every time you log in, which says "people you may know".  And when you click through you will see a list of page after page with people that are 2 degrees away from you.  Well the same is presented to everyone that goes on LinkedIn and is active on there and that's how you get noticed, that's when people view your profile.

I hope you take on board what I am trying to convey, but just in case you don't, I would be happy to explain some other finer points to you at any time, just post a comment or question on here.

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