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Dale Carnegie Online Professional Development Blog

How to Keep your LinkedIn Network Relevant, and Still Foster New Relationships

Posted by Adam Gogolski

May 15, 2014 1:41:00 PM

vivekaThis article was contributed by Viveka von Rosen: Author, Speaker, LinkedIn Consultant and owner of Linked Into Business.

LinkedIn has established itself as a reliable source for sharing knowledge and provides countless opportunities for friendly managers to make new contacts. It’s a two-way street, though.

When you receive an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, it’s relatively easy to click on the name and check out the other party’s profile.

Accepting an invitation from a customer, co-worker or known source to connect on LinkedIn usually is a snap decision. Savvy managers know immediately they’ll use their new contact to build or extend a sturdy business structure and look ahead to situations where the friendship will pay off down the road.

The other direction on that street has potholes: Unsolicited invitations to connect on LinkedIn from unknown people, or contacts that could have no bearing on your career or business strategy. When this happens, how to refuse the contact request from someone without leaving a sour taste?

Managers who decline an invite want to do it tactfully -- without burning bridges – and perhaps even leave the door open a crack for future business contact.  Sample wording for managers who want to respectfully say no:

“I really appreciate your invitation to connect on LinkedIn, but I make it a practice to only connect to people I know well. If you have a reason for wanting to connect, please let me know. And always feel free to follow my company page at this link: www.LinkedIn.com/company/companyname"

When someone sends you an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, you can always look at their profile to determine if they’re someone you want to connect to or not just by clicking on their name.

If you are still unsure whether you want to connect, click on the drop down to the right of the big blue Accept button and click “Reply (don’t accept yet).  As the link implies, you can, without connecting, ask the person why they want to connect.  I find most spammers don’t reply and then I delete them.  But occasionally I will get a very thoughtful response and add that person to my profile.


To accept? Or not to accept

Browse Live Online  Leadership Programs But there’s a gray area managers navigate between declining and accepting LinkedIn invitations.

LinkedIn itself contributes to this haziness: Businesses are cautioned on one hand to accept and approve invitations to join networks only from familiar and trusted people. (LinkedIn feels strongly enough about this to make it part of LinkedIn’s end user agreement, which advises people not to connect to anyone they don’t know.)

At the same time, the LinkedIn site posts pages that nudge members to connect with “people you may know" – encouraging them to reach out to once- or twice-removed potential connections.

All Invitations Accepted

Some people sidestep the issue altogether and accept every invitation that lands in their lap.

Workplace expert Dan Schawbel explains the rationale behind sifting through the whole stack of blind bids for connections:

  • Referrals. More first-degree contacts equals more access to out-of-network managers
  • Research. A professional research directory -- white pages for professionals
  • Branding. A business network can show other businesses it has up to 500 contacts.

A standard reason to accept invitations from unfamiliar sources is that it improves search success. Visibility in LinkedIn increases with the relative size of that company’s network.

Bigger is better, in other words, and this prompts businesses to welcome unfamiliar invites. It helps businesses beef up and boost visibility. At the same time, the source of the unexpected invitation comes with the potential to become a prospect or help a business grow its network in the long run.

Another reason not to throw the baby out with the bathwater: Surprise invitations commonly come from someone already familiar with the business.

That can mean the source asking to join your LinkedIn network could be either:

  • A friend of a friend
  • A fellow member of a shared group typically joined by managers, or
  • Someone who has a tangential relationship with company/locations/industry/visitors in common

If a LinkedIn invitation is offensive or if a contact sours, a business can block the source, or block and report the source. LinkedIn’s restrictions bar most people (with the exception of those shelling out for a premium account) from making random solicitations for connections.


What if managers accept an invitation, but have second thoughts and don’t want to connect with someone after all? There’s a painless way out.  Businesses can block the source as a connection by clicking on the drop down to the right of the blue Message button and then clicking on the Remove link.

LinkedIn is only as useful as the size of your network (so don't be afraid to connect to some people you don't know, as long as you have good reason) and it's perfectly okay not to accept invitations as well.  In the end, as with all things social media, only do what you are comfortable doing!  And happy linking!

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Topics: Personal Influence, Sales Development, Corporate Training

To Webcam or Not to Webcam: Using Webcams in Meetings, Presentations and Training

Posted by Kassy LaBorie

Jan 17, 2014 5:14:00 PM

kassy2011_(2)Over the 15 years I've trained and presented online, I've seen and learned some very interesting things when it comes to communicating and engaging a group of participants while using a webcam. I’m also a member of a dispersed team that meets virtually far more often than not. While I've seen webcams work, I've mostly seen them underwhelm and be an unnecessary use of bandwidth – but not always. Read on for 4 things you need to know about using webcams.

1. Engagement is in the eye (and ear!) of the beholder.

Each participant will have their own opinion on what will engage them, related to that topic, on that day, in that platform or space, and with that trainer/presenter. Online training industry experts speak of participants having a moment of excitement when they realize a webcam is being used, but the interest often fades. Turning it on at key points can add context and interaction, without taking up bandwith or using a tool just because you can.

My unofficial webcam tests as an online trainer: Every time I present a webinar, I ask participants who come early if they would like to say hello on their webcams. In the last year, I delivered 3-6 webinars a month. I can recall exactly two times when online learning participants agreed to it. Most people did not have webcams and those who did, preferred to not be seen in a training with other people they did not know.

Additionally, I conducted a test where I planned to stay on the webcam the entire duration of a one hour webinar. I memorized my one hour talk's key points and interactive moments, worked hard to look directly into the camera, warned participants I'd be looking at the chat at certain times instead of directly into the camera, and did my best to "pretend" I was looking at them, since I could not see them, when they were responding to questions and comments made during the session. After 20 minutes they unanimously agreed that although they loved seeing me introduce myself on camera, and that they thought I was nice looking (!!), they respectfully asked me to turn it off as it was distracting them from the topic of the program. I couldn't have been more pleased to turn it off so I could finally get to focus on them and their responses to the content and interaction rather than whether or not I was looking into the camera properly.


2. Use the right tool for the job. In training design this means we need to use the best feature to meet the meeting objective.

Does the webcam support and drive the objective of the meeting and help the participant better understand what is being communicated? If the answer is yes, then use it. If the answer is I don't know, then don't use it until you find out. The important thing is to be honest about this. If a person needs to receive critical information from the presenter’s face as the speaker looks into a webcam, then it can work. In these cases, the trainer or presenter needs to be a great performer, modeling themselves after those who work in broadcasting. The ability to replicate "looking" at others can only occur if everyone is on a webcam together. See my point next on why meetings are different from online learning events.

Great Webcam Training Example: A perfect example of the webcam being used properly to meet a learning objective was when the IT director taught my team how to use our new VOIP phones. He used the webcam to zoom in on the buttons on the actual phone. It was useful and more engaging and clear than a screen shot could have ever been. It was like he was at our desks, all of us at the same time. A brilliant use of the platform's tool!

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3. Meetings with people who already know each other are different than public learning or client/prospect events.

The simple fact that the participants know each other, or at least know the "culture" of a company and work together already, even if they don't know each other personally, is a game changer. People are not as nervous to be seen on camera when a relationship or common experience already exists. In these “familial” cases, the novelty of the webcam feature takes over, and the pleasantness of seeing a colleague one hasn't seen in a while translates into a "nice feeling." Also important to note is that ALL participants usually come on webcam together in this case, thus taking the focus off any one person as each person looks and responds to each other instead.

In recent online sales presentations, we have used the webcam to "lighten up" the tone of the call. We have literally seen people become more at ease (via their non-verbal body language) when talking to each other as soon as they see each other on camera. People smile and then seem to really "open up." But every time, after we have all said our hellos on the webcams, people quickly want to "get back to business" and turn off the cameras so they can focus. For these calls, the cameras become distracting once the introductions have been conducted.  

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4. A learning event or sales call is not supposed to be about the presenter, it is supposed to about the participant.

Seeing a presenter on a webcam during a live online training event or webinar tends to make it about the person delivering it and not about me, the attendee. I then expect a performance that entertains or inspires me. I get to "see" that person, that personality, to be engaged by that performance. I don't necessarily learn something that I myself will do, like use new software, or implement a new process, or try a new technique. And this goes back to Point #1 above: use the right tool for the right job. If I'm in need of learning something that I need to do, use, implement or try (a new skill) then I need to be the one doing, using, implementing and trying while I am on the call or web event.

The Muppet "Beaker" conducted the following webcam experiment. His audience response was "With any luck, I'll never see anything like it again!"

May we all learn from Beaker!  Enjoy!


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Topics: Virtual Training, Training Technology, Sales Development, Public Speaking

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The Dale Carnegie Digital blog explores all topics related to online learning, dispersed workforces, virtual presentations, sales training and leadership in the digital age.

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