This post is the second in a series of posts looking into how we can create mutually beneficial Linkedin relationships, although the focus is on Linkedin, many of these principles can be applied to any social networking site. To read the first post in the series concerning the importance of groups please click on this link How to build mutually beneficial Linkedin connections (Part 1).
The psychology of relationships
When we talk about relationships we need to be aware that people do not enter into relationships blindly, there is always a reason behind every interaction whether physical or virtual. By understanding the psychology of relationships we become more aware of the whys and hows of forming relationships that work for all parties. Think about these questions:
- what makes you decide to ‘connect’ with someone online?
- what makes you decide to accept a person’s request to connect?
By careful examination of what your thought processes when connecting online you will be much closer to understanding what other people expect from you when deciding to connect with you.
One of the topics I taught as a psychology teacher was the the psychology of relationships, there are several theories to explain why people form relationships both off and online.
- Attractiveness – you may think that this is a pretty shallow reason to connect with someone, but when you think about the fact that we do rely on our vision to help us evaluate and pass judgement initially we begin to see how physical appearance can effect how we are viewed by others. Obviously everyone idea of what is attractive differs, but overall there is a general consensus that first appearances do matter. I have read many blog posts suggesting that profile pictures should be carefully selected, non-blurry face profiles and if possible professional/studio shots. It seems a bit far fetched I know, but I guess it really depends on who you’re trying to attract and impress, right? In general I don’t believe we need to break the bank in order for people to like us, as I just mentioned we all are attracted to different things. It might be interesting to take a note that people are often more attracted to those who are physically similar to them even down to style of clothing, people that prefer to wear suits will always be attracted to other suits and those who prefer to wear more bohemian causal clothing will be more likely to connect with others who prefer their own style. Bottom line though is appearance does matter – I don’t know about you but I rarely connect with a faceless person!
- Proximity – although I don’t think that geographical location is as important online as it is off-line, I know that where you live may affect an individual’s willingness to connect with you. Most folks on Linkedin are looking for purposeful connections so distance may be a barrier for them having their purpose met. When deciding on forming new contacts and relationships think about whether proximity may be a potential barrier to forming a mutually beneficial connection, for example if I’m looking for someone to collaborate with on a project it’s more likely than not proximity will be an issue particularly in relation to time zones and even trying to meet up personally. You can overcome this issue by carrying out searches for people who live in your town, state or country (in individual groups) – unfortunately for me most of my connections are in the US and Canada.
- Similarity – seems obvious doesn’t it? Psychology can be like that. Research shows that people are more attracted to those who are similar to them demographically (age, gender, religion, ethnicity), in their attitudes and beliefs and their personality. The underlying principle behind the power of similarity is that those who are similar to you are more likely to like you than not as there will be less barriers to forming a relationship with them.
So how can we translate this information to Linkedin?
Well, what do you do when someone wants to connect with you? You go to their profile page, that’s what I do anyway. Once at their profile page I scrutinise their picture to evaluate they type of person I think they may be, if there picture seems OK to me (the appearance filter) I scroll down and read their description.
The summary description should give me an insight into their personality and some of their attitudes, I make a mental note of what I have learnt about them and then if I’m interested in them so far I would visit their website, blog etc. I do all of this to make sure that I am able to ‘relate’ with the individual meaningfully, if I’m not then there is really no point connecting with them.
Last but definitely not least I check their values, beliefs and attitudes – how? By their group memberships, most often than not I point blank refuse to connect with someone who isn’t a member of at least one Christian group – this is because my beliefs and values permeate all of my relationships in some way or another, of course I make exceptions but these exceptions are also based on what I have learnt about the individual in their profile and group discussions to date.
But this is what I do, suffice to say we all have our own filters and preferences for some it may be recommendations, the number of other contacts that an individual has, whether they are connected to a key person, has a particular specialism/expertise/skill, or is a member of specific group , no matter the filters we are most likely going to find the answers that we need in the profile page.
So after all of this what I’m trying to say is that your profile matters, outside of the impression you leave in group discussions this is the first appearance you make which will determine your success in any online networking site. The key is not simply to be yourself but to do yourself justice so that you attract the right type of connections who you will be able to build mutually beneficial relationships with.
Another useful link to help build your Linkedin profile – for how to create great Linkedin profile videos please visit the Linkedin Profile video post
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- How to build true relationships via social media (edenchanges.wordpress.com)
- Let’s Connect! (theeverydaysocialista.wordpress.com)
- Accepting the Right LinkedIn Connections (compukol.com)