I am not new to LinkedIn. I can't quote the official year I signed up for LinkedIn, but I would say it was after I graduated from college. So, let's go with 2010. I want to share that I have been an avid user of LinkedIn since late 2016. I had a new job and decided it was time to dive back into using LinkedIn for what I "thought" it was for. Networking and new connections. I will share that three years ago, I probably only had 300ish connections. Most of them I knew in real life, and others were just gained through this social media platform. However, thanks to Clarene Mitchell of TCMCommunications, I have become 500+ connections LinkedIn user.
Thanks, Clarene for your guidance and helping me #ShineBright on LinkedIn!
Before gaining that knowledge, I did not think that LinkedIn was a way to earn some real-life connections. Yes, we are all on here to learn more and to network, but I did not believe I could achieve "actual" connections. Not just for business purposes because right now, I am building authentic relationships with actual people! I want to make a big deal about this!
Earlier this year, I went to an event in Milwaukee during Women's Entrepreneurship Week, and I learned that I could connect with anyone in the room that had LinkedIn and had their Bluetooth on their phone. We could be connections and see each other in real life! Our moderator shared this fun fact. It was terrific the faces of women that popped up while sitting in that room. Now from the event, I received quality content from the panel, and I met some beautiful entrepreneurs in that audience. There is one connection that genuinely stands out from that event.
Before I say who that is, I want to reiterate that I have received many messages in my LinkedIn inbox that I would call spammy.
"Hey! We're connected on LinkedIn, and I'd to share my business blah blah blah..." Not once do they say how and when we connected or even ask how I am doing. I usually ignore those messages. Moreover, I hope that I try my best not to do that towards others. I always try to start with how I know you or if we have a mutual connection. I do appreciate the "Congrats on the new job!" or the "Happy Birthday!" messages. However, I would say thanks to my "Mom-tution," I can tell which ones are genuine or not.
Back to the connection at the event. I met and conversated briefly with Abby Bruckner, Graphic Designer for Accelity, located here in Milwaukee. They were one of the sponsors for the week, and Abby was and is a friendly person. We exchanged contact information, and she had to get back being support at the event. Like I do at all the events I attend, I touch base with anyone I meet to make sure we stay connected. I reached out to Abby, and we eventually scheduled a coffee meet up! What a great time I had to learn about someone else and what they do and how they do it! It was refreshing! We walked away from that meetup and secured that we would schedule another one next month! Well, have you know, Abby and I share the same birthday! #Gemini With that fun fact, we offered to meet at one of my favorite places in the entire world, Sugar & Flour Bakery Cafe in Greendale. Same thing, another great meet up and another opportunity to schedule to connect in person in the future.
Now while I can admit that I reached out to Abby as a business connection, she has indeed become a "real life" connection. Besides sharing the same day of birth, we have a lot in common. Within our conversations, we've had work updates, life updates, and just realized that it's okay to connect in person, from LinkedIn. I know it has worked out best because we came to our conversation with the same idea (not spammy) and it has progressed to more.
I share all of this to say that LinkedIn continues to work in my favor when it comes to connections, and I share this article as an invitation to meet with me in real life. I hope with any contacts you gain on LinkedIn, they are genuine, and if it promotes your business growth, fabulous! However, I hope it offers you more than that. I wish for you "real life" connections of people you may not have had otherwise. You have used this platform exactly how I think LinkedIn creators expected of us if you achieve that.
Originally published as a LinkedIn article in July 2019