LinkedIn has a feature that I haven't used, until this week. It is the "See Who You Already Know on LinkedIn" utility that offers to send invites to people whose email addresses are stored in your email account.
A way to conveniently extend your LinkedIn community to people you know seems like a good idea. Why not send invites to people you have emailed in the past?
On Saturday, I decided to investigate this function. I was curious about how it worked and whether I could filter my email connections for those I wanted to connect with.
I hit "continue" in the pop-up menu and instantly had second thoughts--what about all the people who are copied on business emails? I decided to exit the window, no harm done.
Immediately, I noticed the red email indicator light up on my Blackberry. I looked at my email (a Pavlovian response) and saw two acceptances of my LinkedIn invites. Oh no. I was mortified.
I had sent LinkedIn invites to everyone who has been copied on an email in my Gmail and Outlook accounts since the beginning of time--presidents of client organizations, professors, dentists, plumbers, you name it.
The acceptances kept coming in. How many invites were sent out, I wondered. How many were ignored? It felt like a popularity contest.
The more the acceptances arrived, the more relaxed I became about my invitation bonanza. It's only an invitation to connect, I rationalized.
Most people I recognized and was glad that we were now connected. I was surprised that I wasn't already connected with others. Some I wouldn't have sent invites to because either I didn't have relationships with them or the invites might be viewed as requests inspired by personal gain.
In total, I have received 60 acceptances in 6 days, a 4 percent increase in my total LinkedIn community.
Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? Absolutely. Like change management, my personal goal is to positively influence people to change how they think and act to be more successful. Influencing more people extends my influence, even if it has pushed me out of my comfort zone to achieve it.
Helping someone decide whether to use a LinkedIn feature may seem like a small thing, but it might be more important to some readers, and that's what makes writing this blog meaningful to me. You never know what influence you can have.
So should you try out this LinkedIn feature? The meaningful connections you gain might be worth it. They were worth it for me.