Hi Jill. I have a ‘networking’ question. I have been sent a LinkedIn request by a lady who is doing something similar to me. I am really not sure what the benefit is of me being ‘LinkedIn’ with what I would essentially view as a competitor and also why she would request me – we’ve never met and I tend to send requests to people I have met at functions etc. (perhaps I’m a bit ‘old school’). Her business-angle is not the same as mine which is why I say ‘essentially a competitor’. I’m not closed to the idea of connecting as it seems good to have the opportunity to communicate with ‘peers’ but just having a think and wondered if you would share your experience and thoughts on this?
My reply re networking
There are many views on this. From people who are very careful and only connect with those they have met to the opposite end; connecting with anyone. My experience for what it is worth is...
I began by connecting with anyone. I was desperate to get off the mark and I would probably do it again. Why? Because at first I had no value to anyone as a connection so people usually had a good motive.
After a few months of listening to others who were more discerning, I modified my actions and avoided anyone who lived out of my immediate sphere and just wanted my contact list. The exception was JMT colleagues as I connect wherever they are.
Competitors or collaborators....?
I believe in collaboration as the way forward in growing a business. I am in groups of coaches, speakers and trainers, all of whom could be viewed as competition. However, the best things I have achieved have been with other people. If you find someone who needs what someone else delivers, you refer them. In return- because reciprocity is what it is all about- they refer people to you.
You may want to have joint ventures. You may want to pick their brains if they are further forward in the business... a possible mentor?... you may want to just share experiences. Or maybe you have nothing to give each other and the relationship goes nowhere.
For me, the possibilities outweigh the risks.
I hope this helps