When I open LinkedIn I can see right away that there’s some notifications waiting for me to open. The more connections you have, the more likely you are to have a number of these, and so with quite a few connections, these notifications come daily.
As I move to click on the small red dot on the notifications image (in this case what reminds me of a school bell), I wonder less and less what the notification will actually turn out to be. This is because more often than not, the notifications are to either wish one of my connections a happy birthday or to congratulate them on a work anniversary or perhaps starting a new job.
Now I’m not under any obligation to actually do anything with those notifications. I can ignore them and choose to move on with whatever else I want to do, or I can click and up comes a standard message I can send as is or edit. Typically the standard message is, “Happy Birthday”, “Congratulations on the new job” or “Congratulations on your anniversary”. With a second click I can send the message as is or as I say edit the message by sending an additional thought of my own.
Now me, I always choose to acknowledge the event connected with my connections. I know however that this is not a practice shared by others, and I’m actually not going to suggest or advise you as a reader of this article one way or the other. I’m going to share with you why I personally do think this is a practice I will continue to engage in however. I would think the only reason I’d stop to do this would be if a number of my connections contacted me and requested I stop. It would seem to me however that this practice must be working for the majority of LinkedIn users or LinkedIn itself would disable this functionality and stop promoting the practice of acknowledging events going on with ones’ connections.
One thing I have to say is that like so many other users of this social media platform, I have contacts I know intimately, others I know well, some I know moderately and some I’ve accepted as connections whom never really entered into dialogue with beyond initiating or accepting a connection. My response to these people will vary when I see a notification. To the extent I know the person and/or the actual time I have on my hands at a given moment dictates what I choose to do. Not much time and I send the standard LinkedIn proposed message; more time and I add a personal note of my own.
The real question of course is why. Why do this at all? Of what value is there in sending any acknowledgement? Well to me, I believe it’s one small way of maintaining a relationship with the person. Take the person I know well but not intimately. Maybe I’ve exchanged some messages back and forth over the years, provided some feedback on something they’ve said or they’ve commented on a blog of mine. Acknowledging their birthday costs me nothing but 4 seconds and aren’t they worth that? I think they are.
Should my contact change jobs I’d also want to know about this and I wouldn’t expect they’d individually notify all their connections about the change. This service provided by LinkedIn is a quick way to get the news out and new jobs are always cause for celebration. I think most people enjoy being congratulated and so I do so.
What of the person then that I don’t know all that well but who is nonetheless a connection of mine? I still take those few seconds to click on the, “Say happy birthday” message. Here I might opt to just send the standard greeting. Again, it requires so little effort I can’t help but think if I really value the connection why wouldn’t I give them 4 seconds of my time?
You might wonder why I’d even have a connection that I don’t really know that well or whom I don’t exchange much conversation with. Perhaps for you this is a bigger question. Well, yes there are people who just go about collecting connections at random and think it’s a race to have the highest number possible. I’m not one of those. I do think that in addition to building a network of people in my field, there is value in knowing people in other lines of work; connections where the benefits are not immediately obvious. I’m laying the groundwork for the future, and if they initiate a request with me, perhaps they are looking to benefit from me as a connection. So it’s not always what I can leverage from someone but more often than not what I might do for them.
Clicking on that ‘Congratulate so-and-so on their work anniversary’ is also important I think just because it’s nice to do. There’s no strings attached to sending the congratulatory message, I’m not asking for anything. It does from time-to-time result in a few messages back and forth; a check-in if you will and my relationship with that person gets some attention and nurturing.
So there’s some of my argument for the LinkedIn Notifications feature and it’s value. Sometimes it’s all the little things that cumulatively make a difference.