Monday May 18, 2009
By BRIDGET CAREY AND NIALA BOODHOO
Viveka von Rosen considers herself a promiscuous LinkedIn Networker: She always says yes.
The LinkedIn strategist is what's called a LION, which stands for LinkedIn Open Networker. Out of her 5,500 (now 7000+) connections on LinkedIn, she estimates she personally knows only about 10 percent of them.
She runs the site linkedintobusiness.com and is chief social media officer at Integrated Alliances in Colorado.
We came across von Rosen and the term LION last month when we saw her promote a chat for social media enthusiasts on Twitter. But connecting with thousands of people you don't know seems like it's against everything we stand for in this column.
By being a LION, however, von Rosen has access to more people to promote her events. She says sharing on LinkedIn is like dropping a pebble into a lake: Having about 5,500 connections is like having 15 million people in her network.
Here's the key: She doesn't contact each person. She describes that as 'absolute abuse.' But if she's looking for a speaker for her events, and finds someone who is related to a direct contact of hers, she doesn't hesitate to reach out.
Many people don't want to connect you to their contacts. But von Rosen increases her chances by providing as much information about herself up front. The more open and detailed the message is, the better. And she has learned that telling someone you want to connect because a friend wants a job is also not very enticing.
By connecting with a super-user like von Rosen, you're more likely to get in touch with a helpful source you never met before -- but a LION probably doesn't know the connection well enough to help make introductions. We realized that we fall into the category of 'LAMBS,' i.e., 'Look At My Buds.' LAMBs are people who actually know all of the connections in their network. And combining the power of a LAMB to a LION can sometimes result in a useful connection.
But she warns against being a LION just to spam your contacts.
'Don't be a salesman,' she said. ``Nobody's going to buy from you if you're going to be That Guy.'
Like us, von Rosen thinks the best way to make new connections is to give and offer help and services to others. And if you want to promote things, use LinkedIn's tools to post an event or send a message to your network. 'Being a LION is a privilege, and treat it as such,' she said. ``Don't take advantage of your contacts. They're precious. They can be an avenue to great riches.'
Whether you are a LION or a LAMB, you can send us your social network questions and concerns at [email protected] or check out the blog at http://miamiherald.typepad.com/poked.