Many of those working in professional services organisations will have formally or informally set themselves the following New Year’s resolution for 2017:
Win new clients.
The journey towards that goal could take many forms, but it will undoubtedly involve some degree of networking. Your appetite to utilise LinkedIn as one of your networking tools will be determined by a number of factors including how comfortable you are with engaging on social media generally, the size and value of your existing network and the policy of your organisation.
I recently witnessed the social media policy of one professional services firm which asked its staff members to consider the following questions before accepting a connection invitation on LinkedIn:
• Would you invite the person who has sent the invitation to a firm seminar?
• Would you accept a phone call from that person on a busy Monday morning?
Whilst both of these are laudable factors to consider, I wonder if they are setting the acceptance bar too high. Whilst at first glance the inviter might not meet your criteria for a person with influence in your immediate network, what about your colleagues and third party referrers? Is this somebody who could potentially refer work to another practice area within your organisation?
To my mind the real question is whether or not the inviter can now or at some point in the future add valuable connections to your network either themselves or by virtue of their wider network?
Of course each invitation should be treated on its merits, but in my experience if you want to grow your network your default position should be to accept invitations unless there is a compelling reason not to. On occasions, that might involve a degree of calculated risk, but winning new work almost always involves taking chances.
The beginning of a new year could be the opportunity to do just that.