Leaders, Pay It Forward, Honey Bee Effect, Andrew Stein, SteinVoxReal leaders pay it forward on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks. All effort to keep people out, and limit connections seems to be counter-intuitive to statistics principles.

As you read, think of the honey bee analogy, and the potential that each honey bee unleashes by landing on, and connecting with, any flower that it can touch. Of course, there is the potential of the connection, but also the potential unleashed by the pollenation.

Recently, I heard a speaker talking about LinkedIn say they won’t accept invitations from individuals that don’t know why they want to connect. It wasn’t the first time I had heard this position; in fact, it was more like the 15th, or perhaps more.

I understand that position, but wonder if it misses the point.

A Different – Better Approach

Here is an idea for a new approach – it involves paying it forward. If we just ignore these invites, how can we be part of the solution? A good number of them come from legitimate and valuable people that can create and capture value for you, and for the economy, through the connection. Sure, a few invites are spam but these are few and far between. And, one can quickly turn these off.  One can’t realize the potential value, unless you first connect.

Seth Godin points out in his TEDx Youth@BFX presentation last October on education that we need to be part of the “connection” economy.  As leaders, especially seasoned leaders, it is our opportunity to show we are not stuck in the quagmire of the past industrial era thinking, and be a real part of the social era.

My Suggestion

When asked to connect with an individual, and the default LinkedIn invite text is used, I try to give some positive feedback to help that individual know what they could do better, to help engage others, grow their network, or even something more specific. Consider the response below I gave to a returning soldier from the war in Afghanistan:

Hi Paul,

I’m happy to help in any way I can through my network.  Looks like you are building yours.  Excellent! It’s a critical step in your career.

One suggestion as you continue to grow your network – try to put 5 or 6 unique words in your invitation that indicate something you can do for the person you are inviting.  Even if it’s unclear, like: “I’d like to connect and create value….through our connection.” Or, make yours up. Could even be: “I’m re-engaging as a civilian and am looking to become active in ____ market. I see you are a leader in this industry.”

Please take this as positive feedback. I know a number of people that will not accept invitations to connect on LinkedIn, unless there is a personal note, like the suggestion above.

Your goal is (might be) to build and strengthen your network, and if this helpful, I offer it as positive and constructive advice.

Now, do let me know if there is something specific you think I can do for you – and if it is in my power, I will.

Have a great weekend.

Andrew Stein

The Connection Effect

Paul had less than 70 connections when I shared this with him late last week.  Now his network has grown to over 250 members and my offer is still open.

Helping any young individual, including Paul with a college degree, nearly no commercial business experience outside of the military and someone who has worked already so hard to serve can only lead to greater things.

When Leaders ignore the reach-out of others that have not learned how to use social media, and build connections, they are in a way, driving a gap between the connected and the unconnected. It’s not hard to see the relationship here between the discrimination proverbial “haves and have-nots.”

Lost Time, Lost Opportunity

As I listen to speakers say they “won’t respond to blind invites…” I wonder if they haven’t spent more time speaking about it, than it would take to keep the text above, in a TXT file on their desktop, at the ready to cut and paste and share back to any individual. Certainly that does not create value, and certainly that eliminates all chance of capturing the potential value from a connection.

Paul above is a returning Marine, a Soldier who defended us, our country, its industry and our diverse culture and tolerant way of life. He’s desperately trying to engage in the workforce and be part of what we have – he is trying to make what industry has created even better by being “connected” to it.

He has a two-year degree in Military Intelligence, from the Naval Academy. To shun and ignore such an outstanding individual is insulting, and leaders can do better by reaching out, and sharing how to make better value of LinkedIn in the process of re-engaging as a civilian. Even university degrees do not teach in their core curriculum and basic requirements these critical steps in looking for a job.

Be the Honey Bee, Pay It Forward on LinkedIn

Leaders, stop complaining about blind LinkedIn-default invitations, and capitalize on them. Be part of the solution. Having lost a brother in Afghanistan, and learning so much (including how to write) from my father, a World War II Navy veteran, On Memorial Day I am happy to help him in any way I can.

What positive outcome could occur if the Gates’, Ellison’s, and Immelt’s of the world either did this, or empowered their administrative assistant to engage the connected economy like this? Call it the honey bee effect of Social Media.

Image credit: majamarko via photopin cc

3 Responses to Real Leaders Pay It Forward on LinkedIn

  1. Navida Stein says:

    Well said and profoundly said Andrew. This is not only true in the business world but also in the performing arts world. I call it the stingy elite syndrome! And I think choosing not to connect or extend oneself or pay it forward as you so beautifully put it, is based in fear. A very well known Broadway vocal coach and musician that I know told me once that many Broadway coaches wouldn’t dream of working with singers unless they had a Broadway credit, anything less was beneath them – that they wouldn’t even return that person’s phone call. But he coached an autistic teenager, a married couple who were cantors at a synagogue, a person with Tourette’s syndrome in addition to the numerous Broadway singers and pop stars that he regularly worked with and played for. He said it made life so interesting and you never know what new territory might open up. He actually was featured in a documentary about music and neurology because of these “out of the box” connections! Again, thanks for the article.

  2. Mark Olivito says:

    Great post Andrew! Such a great, positive take giving constructive criticism to a common social networking mistake. Who should NOT want to give a lift to a returning vet? I plan on stealing this idea to pay it forward too, thanks.

    • Andrew Stein says:

      Thank you Mark. I truly appreciate your comment, and your taking value in this idea. As you say, “who should NOT…”

      My Uncle Bob who turns 90, in 6 days, who also was a professional organist and the Head Choirmaster and organist at St. Paul’s in downtown Minneapolis for 46 years, always said. “We get so busy…” He also had two other simultaneous careers as a Mortician and an Operations Manager at Soo Line Railroad. He was never too busy to “do the right thing at the right time.”

      When I hear people refuse to help a neophyte with social media, but yet they have time to pontificate over how many un-accepted invites exist in their inbox, I just see irony and tragedy in the statement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *