They could well be business interests, but more often than not, online or offline, we are attracted to people with whom we have something in common – be it golf, photography, fine wine, music, running, travel, cycling or whatever.
My own network LifeTalk for example, is a social networking site for financial advisers – yet the Cycling, Running, Music and Book threads consistently get large numbers of views and engagement.
In fact Ecademy.com was the first business social networking site to encourage users to add '50 words' about themselves to their profiles. Not a fifty word paragraph, but fifty individual words which summed up who you are and what you're about as a person.
When joining the site, most people initially added words related to their business or expertise, but very quickly realised that ‘business words’ were just a bit boring and did nothing to differentiate them from any other business person. They soon realised that even online 'people buy people' and users changed their fifty words to something that connects better with other human beings... personal interests and hobbies.
When you think about it, most of our personal friendships were made through mutual interests in some shape or form – perhaps membership of a tennis club or something we have in common. As relationships develop, it often turns out that many of our best business contacts are connected to us through common personal interests too.
Although LinkedIn encourages profiles to focus on business, it also has an Interests section (within the ‘Additional Info’ section) which many people aren’t aware of – and of those that are aware of it, many LinkedIn members are simply not making the most of it. Most LinkedIn members see the Interests section as little more than just ‘filling’, but don’t appreciate the business value that can come from using it.
Take a look at the Interests section on my own LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/socialmediaspeaker and then try something out. You’ll notice that each word is clickable - and when clicked, will reveal everyone else on LinkedIn who has that word/interest on their profile. You can then filter the results in a variety of ways and you soon find new people to connect with.
Try it on your own Interests section and you’ll be pleasantly surprised who you will find. Not only people with common interests – but people who also fall into your own sphere of business interests.
So I thought it might be interesting to start a group on LinkedIn where people can connect with each other based around their personal (and business interests). It’s called “People buy People”.
Simply post a short introduction to yourself and list out your seven main pastimes, interests, distractions or pursuits. Feel free to enthuse about your interests and connect with people who enjoy the same pastimes.
Why seven interests? Because our research has shown that seven is the most manageable number when looking for people with similar interests, and it also helps you to focus on just your main pastimes - the things you are really passionate about.
Click here to join the group now, list your seven interests or pastimes and happy networking!
By Philip Calvert