Why it’s good to be promiscuous

By Neil Patrick

Last week I sent out a link to my LinkedIn profile via Twitter. It was accompanied with an open invitation to connect for anyone who wished to.

I had an unexpected reply tweet.

The exact words escape me now, but the essence was ‘ Why do this…surely you don’t want to connect with just anyone?’

My reply was unequivocal. Sure I do. Why would I not? I can always say 'No' (but I rarely do).

I had a similar conversation with a professional friend a couple of weeks ago. He has been a (very) late comer to Linkedin and only has about a dozen connections. He recognises the importance of building his network, but he was paranoid that if any of his connections were with anyone that wasn’t an absolute superstar, this might harm his reputation. But of course the people he wanted to connect with that didn’t know him or have any connection with him would be unlikely to accept an invitation from a stranger with only a dozen connections.

Catch 22.

Now if I think for a moment about all the work I am engaged on right now, I have about half a dozen professional projects on the go. How did these come to be? Well every single one bar just one, came about from relationships I have developed with other professionals through social media. That’s right about 83% of them.

And did I carefully target these people? Nope. They came about naturally through them choosing to work with me because they felt I was the right person that could help them out. And they made this choice of their own free will, not because I had targeted them as a ‘prospect’.

Sure I have had plenty of other approaches which I have turned down, but not because they were necessarily a waste of my time or unattractive, more because I have to prioritise and I’m in the fortunate position of being able to choose which proposals I take up and which I politely turn down.

But I have absolutely no way of knowing which connections I make through social media will turn into business relationships and which will not. And more importantly, if I wasted my time trying to second guess this, I suspect I’d nearly always get it wrong.

So I network freely and openly. And despite this ‘promiscuity’ I have not once had a problem with any of my social media connections.

Quite the contrary in fact. I am constantly amazed and humbled at how many people in my network help me out of sheer kindness and generosity of spirit.

All this social media interaction drives more attention. It’s like power to an electronic magnet. The more power, the stronger the attraction field becomes.

Exactly the same principles apply when you are looking to find a new job. If your attraction field is weak, you’ll get found by fewer prospective opportunities.

This principal and much more which it seems is counter-instinctive to many professional people is talked about here by the ever excellent Jill Konrath, who it seems is just as promiscuous as I am!

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