Got Strangers in Your LinkedIn Network? Here’s the Simplest Way to Leverage Those Connections

Have you ever accepted LinkedIn invites from total strangers based on mutual connections (2nd or 3rd degree)? Do you have an “all invites accepted” policy, perhaps?

Well here’s a high five to you for your entrepreneurial spirit. (Seriously. My hand’s up.)

However, what do you do with all those extra connections once you have them? Do they just sit and stagnate on your Connections list? Do they stay strangers?

If you’re guilty of that sin (raises hand), I present you with the easiest solution ever. You may smack your forehead for this, it’s so uncomplicated.

The Simple Solution: Meet ‘Em Online!

Successful freelance writer Carol Tice suggests having “Skype lunches.” Since she lives on an island in Washington state, she meets new people and has clients she can’t immediately access, so she has a lunch meet via Skype for 15 minutes daily with them. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

Set up [insert IM service here, if you don’t have Skype] lunches (or phone lunches) with the unknowns in your network and get to know them. Or, if they’re local, set up an in-person meeting. Find out their needs and let them know how you can meet them – it’s the first step in developing a relationship with them.

Cool bonus: the solution actually works two-fold for raging introverts (myself included).

If you’re terrified of networking events and large social gatherings, meeting your LinkedIn connections one-on-one accomplishes the same networking goal without overwhelming you. You get to expand your career horizons on your own terms.

Now your entire LinkedIn Connections list can have a purpose.

I challenge you to set up a “Skype lunch” with a new stranger from your list twice a week, or even once a week to start; you can keep it as brief as Tice’s 15 minutes. However, if you’re meeting this person for the first time, the conversation will likely stretch longer, since you’re getting to know each other (which is good).

These meetings can lead to new clientele, and a new business relationship gets you a new advocate.

You can always use more of those, yes? ;)  

Happy meeting!

Flickr photo by nan palmero

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