We all revel in the thought of someone being interested in us. It doesn’t matter if it’s online or offline.  LinkedIn, unlike most social networks, let's users know who's been looking at their profile (depending upon their privacy settings).   But what do you do when someone checks you out on LinkedIn?

Most of us do nothing.We receive a notification (in the form of a red flag) or we sporadically navigate to the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” link and start hypothesizing. We peruse the lurkers and conjure up ideas as to why they may have stumbled upon our profile.  Our investigation goes no further. 

But wait! This is powerful functionality.  I’m positive that LinkedIn envisioned us using it for much more than an occasional ego boost.  It’s worth ten seconds a day to see who’s viewed your profile.  If you want a complete list of who’s viewed you, upgrade to the premium service.

When someone views your profile the first step is to determine his or her relationship to you. The second step is to determine how you will respond (if at all).  Everyone has an “angle” and your job is to uncover it. 

Step 1: Determine the Viewers Relationship to You

First, do your best to categorize this person.  Is this person a…

·      Competitor

·      Prospect

·      Headhunter (They run rampant on LinkedIn!)

·      Client

·      Current or potential Center-of-Influence

·      Peer

·      Old Friend

·      Old Colleague, etc.

Step 2: Determine Your Response

Certain categories will almost always warrant a response.  Here are a few examples of how you might respond based on their relationship to you…

If this is a person you do not know well (prospect, COI), you might send them a message to try and get to know them better.  You might say, “I see we have some mutual connections. It looks like you are in the business of XYZ.  I would welcome a phone conversation or lunch if you are open to it.” 

Just because they recently viewed your profile, doesn’t mean you need to state the obvious.  Your objective is to orchestrate contact and start building a relationship.  Use your best judgment when decided who you’re messaging.  This is not appropriate for each person that views your profile, only those who appear to be an ideal prospect or COI.

If this is a person you know well (client, COI, prospect, old friend, etc.), this is a good time to strike up a conversation on LinkedIn.  Why?  Because you are top-of-mind and you always want to be nurturing your first degree connections.  Remember, first degree connections are the land of opportunity. (By the way, if it’s someone you know well and you are not connected, this is the time to send them a connection request.)

You might say, “Hello Jim, hope you are well.  Are you making any summer vacation plans yet? Also, when can we grab lunch?  It’s been a while.”

The probability of them responding is much greater when they have recently viewed your profile.

If this person is a competitor you want to make sure that he or she hasn’t been able to sneak by your screening process and become a first degree connection.  A lot of advisors connect with too much of their competition. If and when this happens, you should disconnect with this person immediately.  For those other competitors (2nd and 3rd degree connections) checking you out, c'est la vie – no response is the best response.  Consider this a form of flattery.

These are just some suggestions on how to respond.  The truth is, there is no perfect response.  However, neglecting this feature altogether is bound to leave some opportunities unturned.   

Kevin Nichols is a thought-leader with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry.  Follow him on twitter @KevinANichols | www.Oechsli.com