One of the things I enjoy most is meeting young, talented individuals who are entering the workforce with an eye on sales and sales leadership.  In fact, I enjoy it so much, I have volunteered to teach a class twice a year for the past 12 years at a University in the Midwest.

The Dean of the Business School there is absolutely wonderful and the three professors I have the opportunity to work with are incredibly knowledgeable educators who know as much or more about selling than most people I have ever met. And the students complete an excellent teaching environment as they are sponges for information about selling and sales leadership. Every time I leave the grounds of that University following a lecture, I think to myself, “Now, THAT was a blast!”

The focus of these enjoyable lectures is my book on building valuable business relationships entitled, “The Relationship Edge in Business”, which is used by several colleges in their business and marketing curriculums.

And that brings me to Sydney.  

Sydney is a remarkably talented and bright student at that Midwestern University.  I feel that after my many years working with exceptional sales people and leaders I am a pretty good judge of character. After speaking with Sydney, I believe she will be a huge success in the business world.

Prior to my most recent lecture a few weeks ago, Sydney connected with me on LinkedIn. I’m not only glad she did because I am confident she is going to be a success and I love being connected to successful people but it also gave me a real world example to reference during my lecture.

You see, Sydney connected with me because she thought it was the right thing to do. I have to say, that’s not a bad reason. You are supposed to connect with influential people and build your “professional network”, right?  Well yes, but in my mind, the problem with LinkedIn is that for many, connecting on LinkedIn is the end of the process. Yet to have a true valuable relationship, a LinkedIn connection is not the end. Rather it is only the beginning.

Indeed, LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool but it will never enable any of us to build a “real relationship” that we can leverage and use UNLESS we complement our connection with more personal contact – including emails, phone calls, etc.  For example, while I enjoyed meeting Sydney and think she is a future star, if she doesn’t find reasons to keep our professional relationship alive through other means, she will simply be one of my 5,000 connections.  

On the other hand, if Sydney establishes contact with me, learns about me, and seeks to learn from me, then I will perceive that she truly values having a business relationship with me.  As such, it is highly likely that in turn I will be willing to leverage my network to help her in any way I can.  

Tim Sanders in his book, “Love is the Killer App”, says we should share our contacts and our knowledge. I’m 100% aligned with Tim’s thinking but only if you have shown to me thru your actions that a relationship with me is something you want and would treasure.

LinkedIn is a great tool but the true cornerstone of a valuable business relationship is that invisible tattoo we all possess that says, “Make Me Feel Important”.  Indeed, we all feel more important when someone stays in “persistent, consistent, relevant” contact with us. We all desire a network that truly works for us.  We all want relationships that will get us access and provide us with a listening ear.  And perhaps most importantly, we all want relationships that we can rely on when the world turns sour on us.

So I have a challenge for you that will without a doubt enhance your business relationships.  For the next two months, choose 75-100 people within your LinkedIn network whom you deem truly valuable to your future success. Now engage with each and every one of them at least once each month via a phone call, a text, or a personal email.  At the end of the two months, take a moment and assess where you stand with those valued connections versus where you were two months ago.  I am fully confident that you will find that your relationships are stronger than they have ever been before.  And this my friends is the power of being “really linked”.

To help you with this engagement moving forward, the ReallyLinked app is coming soon from Delta Point. Be ready to learn and see firsthand how staying in persistent, consistent, and relevant contact with your truly valued LinkedIn contacts can make a huge difference. I promise you it will change the very nature of your business relationships and in so doing, change the trajectory of your professional success.