I met David Harkleroad at an October 2005 branding conference in New York where I spoke on internal branding.

During the conference, I received an email invitation from him to join his LinkedIn network. I wasn’t familiar with it but thought it was cool that he invited me, especially after hearing him explain to someone that we was selective in extending invitations.

Since then, LinkedIn has proven to be a very valuable business tool to connect with and keep track of former co-workers and individuals I’ve met at conferences. It’s great to be able to easily learn more about people’s jobs and interests. And with the Q&A, groups, and applications that have been added (check out my profile where this blog is now available), it’s given even more options for growing a personal network, contributing ideas to others’ questions, and building awareness for the blog.

Based on that early encounter, I’m still relatively selective in expanding my network, periodically reviewing contacts and testing myself on how well I know or remember them. Yet, I have a great friend, Amy Hoppenrath, a well-known LinkedIn Trainer, who is an advocate for very open networking.

Either way, if you’re a reader and on LinkedIn, let’s connect networks. I’m closing in on 500 connections, and you could be it! Thanks to David Harkleroad for being connection #1!