Let’s say that while you are marveling over this photo, an email pops up, and it’s notifying you of a request from a stranger to connect on LinkedIn. He grew up in foster care and is a former gang member of an L.A. gang. He’s drifted through a series of jobs ranging from janitor to insurance salesman. In his note to you, he introduces himself and shares that he is looking to build his network. He took out a $700 loan to start a company and has put everything he has into a new product. He’s been selling it door-to-door and living in his car while doing it. Would you accept this guy’s invitation to connect?
On LinkedIn, when I connect with someone new, I take time to review their profile, and look for common interests or ways I might be able to help them. I will search through my contacts to see if I know anyone who would also be a good contact for them. The relationships I’ve established by following this simple strategy have profoundly enriched my life, personally and professionally. I think this level of connecting with people is important because, as my neighbor, Jobyna, said to me just this week, “You never know who your teacher will be.”
That guy described earlier, who just sent you the request, is John Paul Dejoria. The company he started with the $700 loan is John Paul Mitchell Systems, and is now worth over $900M annually. He’s donated to countless causes around the globe and he’s one of my favorite examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Would you have ignored his request?
The best advice I’ve ever been given about supporting one another (true networking) was from a man who was also named Paul, and he said, “Never be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. Don’t think you know it all.” (NLT Romans 12:16)
Every day, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. A network of ordinary people supporting each other is a powerhouse, and can effect great change. Your network should be comprised of vastly diverse connections, people at all professional levels with varying educational, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. You don’t know what your contacts will go on to accomplish, in fact, it might be you who can help them achieve success. Because really, what’s the purpose of having a robust network if you aren’t helping each other?
My new friend Jackie Nagel wrote an outstanding article recently about the right way to develop your LinkedIn experience. I highly recommend reading her LinkedIn Business Development Strategies. Jackie is incredibly insightful and is a genuinely kind person. You’ll love adding her to your network.
So, in the spirit of true networking, please connect with me on LinkedIn, and let’s see how we can help each other.