Recently someone I didn’t know asked to connect with me on linkedin. My general rule is to use linkedin only for people I’ve worked with before. I rarely connect with people I do not know. I like to keep my social networks tidy, unlike my basement or garage.
Ashley put in a great “cold open” in her invite. She simply stated her goals and asked me to discuss what I do. This made me rethink the rule. She seemed like someone who was able to reach out and get past the fear of the unknown to make a connection.
Most of us have a fear of rejection. It’s human nature. Godin (and others) call it the Lizard Brain. It stops you from reaching out. It keeps you from being vulnerable. It want’s to protect you from risk. It is a primal force that’s kept our species alive. Luckily for some of us, we don’t need to fight or flight every day anymore. It’s a simple thing. Overcome the fear and you grow.
Here’s how Ashley squashed her lizard brain and you can too.
Send the invites out.
This is the first hurdle. Ask people to connect or chat. State what you’re interested in and ask people to talk about themselves. We all like to talk about ourselves. This will build empathy. You’ll get more ignores or outright no answers than yes replies. Such is life, it only takes one to build a connection.
Ask more questions.
When you get a follow up phone call, ask questions to build a report. Be genuine. If you’d like to work in the same industry as the person you’re talking to, ask them what they do and how they got there. If you realize you don’t, you can still learn and build a connection.
Follow up twice
Immediately send a thank you email. Later, when you make something new, send the link to the person you connected with. It’ll show growth and keep the relationship alive. Don’t pester them though. Keep a good cadence.
I firmly believe in the strength of the relationships of people making creative work. To be good at something you need to woodshed alone, for a long time. But you also need feedback, mentorship, comrades, and connections.
Austin Kleon calls this being “alone together”. It’s a great term to summarize how we creative people need to work. Set yourself a goal to connect with one person as soon as you can.
Practice, get feedback from others in your line of work, repeat.