Recently I’ve received several questions from readers about connecting with people on LinkedIn. Most of the questions are something like this: “I receive connection requests from people I don’t know at all, with no explanation of who they are or how I might know them. Is it rude/unwise to just ignore these?” This brings up the issue of one’s personal LinkedIn strategy, so I think it’s worth exploring.
I don’t invest an enormous amount of time on LinkedIn, but I do think that for purposes of findability, every freelancer should have a profile on LinkedIn or a similar site. These sites rank very highly on search engines, so if clients are scouring the Internet for a translator, there’s a good chance that they will come across your LinkedIn profile. In addition, I use LinkedIn as a virtual business card file; it saves me from keeping track of the e-mail addresses of all of my business contacts. I also belong to several LinkedIn groups; I lurk more than I participate, but I still find them valuable.
People seem to have a variety of feelings about LinkedIn connections, ranging from:
only wanting to connect with people who they know personally and work with, resulting in a potentially small but very high-quality network
being willing to connect with new people, if those people provide an explanation of why they want to connect
actively connecting with anyone, also known as the LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) strategy
I can see rationales for all of these strategies, but in general I think I take the second option most often. One reason I’m an active social media user is that my local client base is very small. Colorado is not as international business-oriented as the coastal states in the U.S., and the major industries here (mining, agriculture, renewable energy) are not areas in which I translate. So, I have to broaden my horizons if I want to keep finding new clients. For that reason, I’ve done some active cold-contacting on LinkedIn, mostly in the form of sending contact requests to people who are in some of the same LinkedIn Groups I’m in (with a free account, you cannot cold-contact just anyone on LinkedIn). I’ve explained that I’m a US-based French to English translator specializing in law, international development and corporate communications and that I’m interested in expanding my contacts in that person’s country/industry. In general I’ve found people to be very receptive to these types of contacts. At the same time, I am reluctant to accept contact requests from people whose names I don’t recognize, and who provide no explanation beyond the pro forma “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” message.
Readers, any thoughts on your LinkedIn strategy and your rationale for it?