Today, however, we’re going to focus on connections.
The first way to add connections is to go to your LinkedIn profile and click on “Connections”
If you then go down to “add connections,” you can connect your address book to LinkedIn.
You can then add everybody in your address book. If you have an address book that is strictly for business, then you will only get business connections. But, if you use the same email for both (or have Gmail and it just grabs all of your contacts), then you will get a listing of
…your son’s soccer coach from when he was 6, your daughter’s third grade teacher, the health tech from the middle school.
You get the idea. There might be some people in there that might not really be considered business contacts.
So it might be time to step back and see who you WANT to actually add to your connections.
From what I can gather from what I’ve read and what I’ve seen, there seems to be three schools of thought.
Grab for ALL the connections you possibly can. This is where you would add your son’s soccer coach and the ex-boyfriend of your second cousin once removed.
Be purposeful and specific in the people you do or do not add.
Change with your whim week by week.
As you can see, I’ve put a strikethrough through #3. This plan doesn’t have any logic.
#1 has some benefits, and there are advantages to having a large number of LinkedIn connections. This is spelled out in the first article below (9 Reasons Why LinkedIn Friendship is the Mightiest of Magics). This was written by someone that does Online advertising so increasing the size of a market is a significant part of their business. (As a complete aside, as the mother of a “brony”, I have got to admire someone that manages to write a blog post outlining their professional services while using lessons from My Little Pony – props to Larry).
The second option is the one that I’ve personally chosen. I want to have the ability to speak to the business acumen or character of my connections.
As I was working on this blog post, a call came in from another member of the Virtual Assistant community looking for graphic artists. I sent her information about 3 graphic artists that I know and their LinkedIn profiles. This way she can see their experience and recommendations right off the bat.
Yes, I’ve talked about delegation before. It’s a topic that comes up often. The other day I was reading a Facebook Status from a friend that has a spouse in the construction business.
“Watching all these shady contractors on the news ripping people off makes me sick when there are good guys out there like ____________ who follow all the guidelines and have insurance and proper registration and do a great job for their customers and lose jobs to these clowns that rip people off. If the bid is low, there is a reason. You get what you pay for.”
Sometimes we think it’s hard to find the “good guys,” but if you do your research ahead of time, you’ll save time and frustration in the long run.
Here are three tips that should help you whether you’re looking for a plumber, a lawyer, or a virtual assistant:
Just ask. Ask everybody you know. Ask your friends, ask your neighbors, post a request to Facebook. Rest assured, if you don’t know somebody, you know somebody that knows somebody.
Do background checks. I’m not talking about the background checks that go with hiring bank employees or Sunday School teachers*. But if you do a Google search on a name, look at a service like Angie’s List, or look at a person’s profile on LinkedIn, that will give you an idea of their professional persona.
Interview. Most reliable service providers, in any area, are more than willing to sit down and talk to you for some amount of time for free (or at a greatly reduced rate) so that you can see if a working relationship is possible.
I honestly can’t think of a single time I’ve made a decision based solely on cost that I’ve been happy with that choice. On the other hand, I’ve often been happy with work done by people that have come with strong personal referrals.
Think about what you can do if you release some of the things that make your life difficult. No dollar amount can be placed on time with your family or on peace of mind.
No Secrets (Carly Simon album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
*As an adoptive parent what I often tell people is that if I had any skeletons in my closet, they would have been found during the background check process. I’m like Carly Simon and I have no secrets.
Whether you’re working with someone on a temporary basis (such as the graphic artist I hired for my logo design), a seasonal basis (like a tax preparer), or a regular basis (your VA that does your weekly blog post and your monthly newsletter), remember that this person is a partner in your business. The first place to look for service providers is in your own networks. Ask people in your networking groups or ask other business owners if they can recommend someone. If that doesn’t net any results, ask your Facebook friends or ask around at church or other places you frequent. Often someone you know will know a service provider. Having a personal recommendation is your best option. (more…)