We are all guilty of it.

I know I am. You go to a networking event and meet five or six people that you have not before. The next day, you look them up on LinkedIn and send them a connection request. And then ... nothing. Unless something specific came up in your conversation with them, you really don't reach out to them again until you need something, which is the worst time to contact someone. You need to give five times before you can ask to get once. Again, we are all guilty of this to some degree.


So LinkedIn did something about it.

LinkedIn recognized this and created a great new app for your smartphone called "Connected." This free app will review your profile and look for good reasons to check in with people. Topics like: birthday, work anniversary, new job. The kind of events where it is appropriate to just wish someone luck or congratulate them. It is a great concept and I encourage you all to download it today and start using it.

The problem is we, as people, are lazy.

I am certainly including myself in that statement. We all get so wrapped up in the day-to-day grind that we often neglect to stop and appreciate our surroundings. When you launch the Connected app, it auto-populates a generic message — most of the time it just says "congrats!" LinkedIn is such a powerful tool, but it is all too easy to fall into a lazy pattern.

Inspiration from a colleague.

A few months ago we had a visitor to my sales office in Baltimore and his job is to help the sales team for the entire United States foster more leads and generate more sales. His advice resonated with me and it was simple: personalize. When you take an extra 15 seconds to change "Congrats" to "Congratulations Mark on five years with XYZ Inc. I hope the next five are even better," you are showing some authenticity and personalization. It says "I didn't just click a button, I put some thought into this."

Take action, you'll be glad you did.

One of the first sales slogans I learned in my sales career was "a little hinge that swings a big door." I always attributed it to a man named W. Clement Stone, but I am sure, other people will credit it to other people who pioneered the sales training world. The meaning here is simple. Rarely is it the big production that wins the new customer or makes an impression on a potential employer. It is the little details like noticing a haircut or remembering someone's birthday that makes a difference and opens a door. Your mission (should you choose to accept): Download the Connected app and every morning spend 10 minutes making a personalized gesture to five people or more in your network.

Mike Shelah is a Technology, Sales and Social Media Consultant as well as current Board Member with the Carroll Technology Council. He can be reached via mikeshelah@yahoo.com. For more information about the Carroll Tech Council, please visit its website at www.carrolltechcouncil.org or contact Kati Townsley, Executive Director, at kati@carrolltechcoucil.org or 443-244-1262.