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Mind If I Follow You, Hmmmm?

CONNECT. A very powerful word

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Shutterstock by ASDF_ Media

Once A Week, But At No Time, Weakly

Mind If I Follow You, Hmmmm?

by Nick Coston, US Director of Sales, The Neuron; Industry Humorist 

According to The Google, which means it’s 98% correct per my high school daughter, on the social network LinkedIn, a connection is defined as a two-way relationship that requires one user to send an invitation and another user to accept. Following, on the other hand, allows one user to see and interact with another user’s content and activity without being connected.

I would hope that nobody out there really wants to follow me. Anywhere. Likewise, when I find someone interesting or that I may want to do business with, or just know more about because they seem interesting, if the little blue button below their cute round picture says CONNECT, I hit it. No pause, no delay, I go for it. 

Stalking by Shyntartanya-shutterstock

If it says FOLLOW, I think about it. I just feel like the button might as well say STALK ME. Really now. If I actually FOLLOW you, that means I’m doing all the work. You don’t do anything but just rack up followers. It’s very cult like. “Ohhh, that Nick Coston, he follows a lot of people on LinkedIn. Most people have no idea who he is, but he follows them, rather stalker like. And how old is that picture he uses?”

I don’t think they’re quite thinking that but I think I’ve been a member on LinkedIn since 1942. Maybe not quite that long, but it does feel that way. Realistically, probably since 2005. I don’t know if there’s any way of telling, I tried looking to see when I actually started but I lost interest. My point is, at no time that I’ve been on LinkedIn, all these years, have I ever not thought of employing the CONNECT button. Why would I think of myself as better than anyone else on LinkedIn and not want to CONNECT with you?

Can you imagine what would happen if I switched that button to FOLLOW? What would be the point? I most definitely would lose any new connections and lose that two-way street that I want to have on this website. What if I don’t like you and I don’t want you to FOLLOW me, what then? I tell you no, get lost? Stop following me, you’re creepin’ me out.

Of course not, I want be friends with anyone that cares to CONNECT with me. I don’t sit there and ponder “gee, wonder what I can get out of this person, is it worth connecting”? Well sometimes I might, but I still hit the CONNECT button. Seems like there’s a lot of judging going on in social media, to CONNECT or be followed. Hmmmm, what’s in it for MEEEE???

I have over 5,900 connections currently on LinkedIn. I have no idea if that’s a lot or not, and I don’t know everybody by their first name, but every so often I run through the list and I stop and I send them a message saying hi, asking how they’re doing.

William Veeck in his office, Look Magazine shoot

You’ll be surprised how many people say hi back. I learned this from an old friend of mine, Bill Veeck, a well-known, former professional sports team owner. Bill always said that “if you spend the time to call me, I will spend the time to talk to you” and let me say anytime I called Bill, he answered the phone with a very loud HELLO. Partly because he was somewhat deaf, but I like to think was he was excited to hear my voice. It doesn’t matter, Bill spoke to everybody in person, on the phone, on the street, even by mail. I’d like to think I’m the same way except I’m not so sure when the last time was I wrote a letter. 

I don’t know what Bill would think, if he were alive today, of which button to press on LinkedIn. I have a feeling he’d be a little insulted by it because like me he’d want connect with everybody. Bill was part buyer, part salesman, part huckster. I like to think of myself as the same way. So when I went through my 5900 connections, then looked at similar folks out there, I came to the conclusion that anyone on the sales side of their profession always has the CONNECT button displayed. And why not, you want to connect, build a relationship, either short-term or long-term, but most importantly make a sale. You can’t make a sale by following someone. Again, that’s creepy. You make it by initially forging that connection. 

On the other hand, you can usually tell something about the person who only has the FOLLOW button. They usually are not in sales, post a lot of their musings, where they are traveling to, what work anniversary they are the celebrating, and how they just got promoted or took another job. They also post a lot of photos; of themselves. Which means you can follow them to their new position, isn’t that just grand? 

“What about MEEEE, they are screeching”. 

I blatantly stole that line from an acquaintance of mine, George Hahn. George, as his LinkedIn profile states, is an actor, writer, observer, media personality, and as the New York Times describes him, “a raconteur”.  I admire that last description, I wish someone would refer to me like that. He’s been a guest numerous times on MSNBC and I follow him on Instagram, mostly because I really like the way he dresses. 

George Hahn

Most importantly, when I went to connect with him on LinkedIn about 20 minutes ago,  there it was. The magic word. There was no doubt in my mind what word that would be. 

CONNECT! No FOLLOW for George. And he’s somewhat famous. So I did just that. We even have two friends in common, although one guy I’ve never heard of. But that’s OK. We’re connected, and that’s what matters. 

So when you’re trolling LinkedIn, late at night in your jammies, make sure you think, do I want to connect with this person or am I going to just lay down and settle for following them. Is what they have to say, what they have to post, and the photos they want to share with the world, that important that you need to follow them? Does this make me a lesser person because I’m following somebody or are we eye-to-eye, even-steven because we connected. I like the latter. 

Maybe if less people stopped hitting FOLLOW, more will want to post the CONNECT button. That’s why I come to LinkedIn.  When I see the CONNECT button, I roll those dice. 

CONNECT. It’s a very powerful word.

 

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