I was updating an old article recently that had a wonderful line about Rolodex(es). I used to have two large ones filled with mostly business cards stapled onto index cards that contained the contact history of my business life. Now we call that Google Contacts.

And LinkedIn.

You might not remember this, but a lot of people were very skeptical about LinkedIn early on. The big concern was that the “open Rolodex” would let other people connect to your connections. But who you know isn’t really the key — it’s whether they will pick up the phone when you call.

What LinkedIn’s three degrees of separation really does is:

  • function as a professional search engine
  • identify your friends’ contacts

The first is a phone book circa the digital age. It catalogs people and lets you identify the right person to reach out to. The second jump-starts the “can you connect me to” your friend conversation by letting you figure out that your friend really does know that great developer/writer/marketer/recruiter you’ve been wanting to talk to.

LinkedIn also lets you nurture your connections, and there are a number of ways to do this right.

This is how not to treat your LinkedIn connections.

This is not one of them.

I received this email the other day from one of my LinkedIn connections. It’s the perfect example of what happens when you marry a big database (connections) with marketing automation — and you forget that there’s an actual person at the other end.

Greetings, Daria. I’m one of your multitude of LinkedIn contacts.

I must admit that I have not kept in close touch with many of my 700+ LinkedIn contacts, so have little idea what’s new with most of them (and fully realize they may have no clue what I’m up to).

My LinkedIn profile is kept relatively current. I post articles and updates on occasion, and congratulate colleagues when LinkedIn tells me they have a birthday or work anniversary. Still, you may not be all that familiar with me, the type of clients I serve, and the projects that I prefer.

Because of that, I thought a two-minute video introduction might be in order. Check it out here:

[yes, there’s a link to a video all about him]

Thanks for reading this note. And please take a moment to let me know, how can I help you with [services he offers].

Please make it a point to stay in touch via email, phone [number included], or LinkedIn message. All best wishes,

[signature with more marketing]

P.S. — If we know each other well, thanks for your understanding of this admittedly less than personal note. Why not get in touch anyway, either for help with your [services he offers] or simply to schedule a time to catch up.

Remind anyone of a robocall?

You have a responsibility to use your network wisely.

This really shouldn’t be rocket science, but spamming your connections is not a smart business strategy. It’s also not a smart people strategy, or what LinkedIn was set up to do.

GIF via Giphy.