About a year and a half ago I wrote a post: Why I Love LinkedIn.
In that post, I noted that my favorite feature is simply reading through the Notifications to see what my former students are up to. If one of them is starting a new job, has gotten a promotion, or is going back to grad school, I usually try to reach out with a simple congratulatory note. Often times that leads to a brief exchange of emails so that we can get caught up with each other. A few times it’s even led to inviting a few of them back to campus to be a guest speaker in my class.
Since I usually teach freshmen, very few of them have LinkedIn accounts, and so I encourage them to sign up as soon as they can so as to start building their network. I tell them that they are certainly free to reach out to me to connect as part of building their network.
A few freshmen do create a LinkedIn account, and a subset of those students do reach out to me with an invitation to connect, which I always accept.
So imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago I started getting a flood of invitations from both last semester’s freshmen, and the ones I am teaching this semester.
I must admit to being excited by the activity, thinking that they were heeding my words of advice and saw some value in adding me to their network.
Well it didn’t take long for my bubble to be burst.
Before the start of class the other day, I heard a couple of students chatting, and if I heard correctly, they were asking each other if they had completed an assignment for their professional development course that required every student to create a LinkedIn account and add at least five connections.
It seems like a worthwhile assignment, since I think students will learn to see the value of having an online business network.
So while it was exciting to see my network grow, it’s sort of a hollow victory.
It’s the same excitement I feel when I get a follower in WordPress, there’s nothing like seeing your stats grow 🙂 But if such a follower never engages with my blog posts in some way (reading, liking, commenting), then you have to wonder what is the value of having such followers.
So while I am sure that some, if not most, of these students who connected with me just to fulfill a class requirement will never interact with me on LinkedIn moving forward, there will be a few people whom I interact with for the next several years via LinkedIn.
And that’s what makes it so enjoyable for me.
P.S. In quite the coincidence, while in the midst of writing this, I got a request from a student to connect with them on LinkedIn. Invitation accepted…