Your Rolodex™ Is Showing

What if I could see all of your business relations, competitors, friends and acquaintances? Depending on your age, you may or may not know what a Rolodex is. Allow me to explain. The Rolodex was a large desk top device that held all of your alphabetized contacts on individual cards. It is a combination of the words “rolling” and “index.”

A person’s importance (and many times their corporate value) could be seen by the number of contacts contained in their Rolodex. It was the one thing you always took if you were asked to clean your desk and leave the premises in the next 30 minutes. It was also the one thing that was of great importance when interviewing for a job — the new company was looking for someone with a deep rolodex. It was your domain over which you were the guardian and ruler.

Fast forward to the year 2002. That was the year LinkedIn was founded. I can now see your Rolodex if you have made your contact list public. But wait — that is not a bad thing. You may not want to make your list public if you are a lawyer, accountant, stock broker or in another occupation that requires privacy. For the rest of us, the sharing of contacts can have great advantages.

Here is how it can help you.

  1. It can be used for vetting. If someone tells me they can get me or my product in front of decision-makers, I can see how many decision-makers are in their connections and if they are in the correct field. Lawrence Harte is a tech guru, expert witness, magazine editor and author. He has interviewed many, many heads of tech companies throughout the world. I can see his Connections on LinkedIn. I can confirm that he is the real deal with a deep list of contacts at high levels.
  2. It can be used for referrals. If I am trying to get inside a specific company, I can go to Advanced People Search. I enter the name of the company and check the 2nd Connections. It brings up a list of all of my 2nd Connections in that company. As I scroll down the list. I can see my shared Connections with each individual. Then, I ask the shared Connection for an introduction.
  3. It can be used to start a conversation. It is always helpful to let someone know you share a business associate. Generally, I would ask ahead of time if I can use the common associates name in my conversation. This helps warm the discussion.
  4. It can be used to prepare for meetings or establish meetings. If I am presenting to a large company, who else might I connect with while I am in the building or who else might I invite to the meeting. I can see the titles of other people in the company that are 2nd Connections. I can then ask my contact, the meeting planner, if it would be helpful to have them at the meeting. I might even ask if I could invite them personally using my contact’s name.
  5. It can be used to curate information. If I open a Profile, a relationship tab comes up. I can enter notes, reminders, how we met and a tag. Each of these can be helpful in remembering specifics for each person and building a relationship. Explore each one to determine if it might be of use to you.
  6. It can be used to send a message and track recent conversations using InMail. When I pull up a Profile page, I see the option to send a message or endorse underneath the Education in the header section. I can send a message directly from this page. I have several options under endorse if I use the drop down menu such as view recent activity, suggest an update, recommend and others.

When all is said and done, the ability to view another’s connections is a valuable tool in today’s business climate. So don’t be afraid. Let your Rolodex show!

Have you seen other uses of a public Contact list? Let me know.

Rolodex™ is a trademark owned Berol Corporation.

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