Virtual Connections, Authentic Connections: A Story

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Crafting and maintaining a personal brand takes a lot of work. I am going to tell you a story about the power of a vivid LinkedIn profile.

When I was starting out as an independent consultant and building my network, I checked out the LinkedIn profiles of my connections’ connections. This was way before I had very many connections, so it wasn’t a very onerous task. I targeted a few key people and began to look at who they knew, zipping rather quickly through profiles, looking for interesting taglines. That’s when I came across this: Esther Matte, Collective Work Facilitator. Hmmm…. That sounds intriguing! Maybe she does work like me. What an imaginative way of billing it! I continued to read Esther’s profile, and I found her writing to be heartfelt, enlivening, and inspiring. I wanted to meet her!

And then I worried for a bit. How can I meet Esther? Well, there’s a number of ways you can do this on LinkedIn, including asking your primary contact to give you an introduction, but in this case I did not feel comfortable doing that, so I took a deep breath and did the electronic equivalent of what salespeople have been doing for eons:  I cold-called her. Or I guess I cold-messaged her.

“Hi Esther. I found your profile by looking at XXXX’s connections and was immediately attracted by your description ‘Collective Work Facilitator.’ I think we have some strong commonalities in our interest in facilitating vibrant communities.”

And then I waited. For not very long, as it turned out. Esther wrote back the next day: “Hi Alissa! Thanks for your message and interest. I would love to meet!” She told me about a workshop she would be giving on facilitating Open Space (link) the next day. I attended that, and our collegial relationship was born. I first learned about Open Space from Esther, and when she moved back to her native Canada, I took over running the regularly occurring Open Space meetings of the Organization Development Network of New York.

None of this would have happened if a) Esther’s profile wasn’t vivid and inviting, and just as importantly b) Esther wasn’t (in her own words) “authentically interested in meeting people”. Esther continues: “If I had not responded to your mail, not taken the time to meet, the profile would not have been so useful, right?” Right!  A LinkedIn profile is only as good as the real, human connection that it catalyzes.

I am grateful for Esther’s warmth and curiosity in meeting me and the opportunities that unfolded for us as a result. Esther has refined her profile over time, of course, to continue to reflect what she does. You can find it here.

Need a boost in creating or tuning up your own LinkedIn profile? Sign up for Marc Halpert’s and my interactive webinar this month: Showcasing Your Brand On LinkedIn.  Click here for more details.

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