Posted by: G. Lane Cavalier | August 1, 2008

Networking: Do you Collect People? and if you do, is LinkedIn the tool for you?

The other day I told someone that I was a People Collector. The conversation was about networking and job searches in general. The gist of the conversation revolved around LinkedIn and whether all LinkedIn was was a ‘name collector.’

The individual was expressing the fact that they hadn’t gotten the value they thought they would from LinkedIn and my reply was that I didn’t really believe in collecting names; I thought you should collect people.

When I say I collect people, I don’t just want to know what their job and address is, I want to know something about them and personally I often find that it is a lot more fun to know things about people’s lives more than about their jobs. Being as that is the case, LinkedIn does serve a purpose for me.

I probably fall somewhere between being a LION(LinkedIn Open Networker) and being a ‘restrictive’ networker. Pretty much if I meet you, share a few emails or beverages and don’t find you to be despicable, you are welcome to join my LinkedIn network. One of the benefits in my opinion of LinkedIn is it helps with the ‘who you are’ part of the equation. This is simply because I can keep your name, email, phone, and a few notes in my contact list, but LinkedIn gives me a little biography as reference.

Now, don’t for one minute think that LinkedIn is the cure-all for your networking or that it in any way becomes a comprehensive CRM; you frankly would be ill-advised to use it as such, but when I get an email or see a request for help on www.LinkedInChicago.com (shameless plug as I’m a co-moderator), a quick search on LinkedIn is a good way to ground myself in that persons biography before I make contact so as I’m not giving them useless information.

I still know a ton of people who aren’t into social networking or don’t really think about networking a lot, but I am beginning to think that this is a great way to discuss it with them without using the dreaded N word.

I read somewhere recently that no one’s life is complete until they find something of infinite interest in which to collect and though I have a small “elephant” collection, I don’t think it really qualifies. What I have found out is the only real infinite interest I have is understanding peoples thoughts and ideas. So I guess my only real collection is People.

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