This morning, I had a virtual coffee with a new LinkedIn connection, Julie Baumkel. I've never met Julie before and she sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. On average, I probably receive about a dozen invitations on LinkedIn per week, likely due to the volume of activity I have on LinkedIn as well as the nature of my job and the visibility of Walsh College.
As a side note: typically, 90% or more of the invitations I receive on LinkedIn are those with the standardized text, "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." When I receive these invitations and don't know the sender, I always reply with "Hi (name), thank you for the invite. Have we met?" This prompts them to reply and clarify why they wish to connect.
However, Julie was unique in that she personalized her invitation to me, mentioning that she had read one of my blogs. She asked to connect on LinkedIn. Then she also asked if I would be willing to meet for "virtual coffee" to pick my brain.
The concept itself really appealed to me, and I gladly accepted. Both because Julie demonstrated a level of professionalism in her approach, but also because I felt there was mutual respect about the meeting and that we both would gain something from the discussion. Plus who wouldn't love virtual coffee!
We had a great call, and I learned a new technique today that I'm going to apply as I move my social networking online to offline.