Monday, January 5, 2009

How I Connected with Barack Obama on LinkedIn

I’m frequently asked about how I am lucky enough to be directly connected to President-Elect Barack Obama on LinkedIn, at times even bartering such knowledge/perceived access in exchange for various goods and services, but I have had so many requests I feel that it is time to publish this blog post in order to save myself some time in responding to all the requests.

Although President-Elect Obama and I are directly connected on LinkedIn, I cannot say I know the man personally. I’ve had interactions with a couple Massachusetts Governors, former Presidential candidate John Edwards, Democratic political strategist James Carville, and CNN’s Candy Crowley, but never “The Big O.”

Never have I had the chance to find Mr. Obama as my constitutional law professor, nor knocking on my door while he was community organizing, nor while playing pickup basketball games at the local YMCA, nor while hungry and slightly tipsy waiting in line late-night at Harold’s Chicken in Chicago’s Hyde Park area. Our paths must have crossed somewhere along the line, but never was I in the right place, at the right time.

Although I’m proud to admit my admiration for Mr. Obama, and I even worked diligently on behalf of his campaign, I have no official professional relationship with President Elect Obama either. I may be on all the mailing lists, in all the Facebook groups, and a follower of Mr. Obama on Twitter, but none of these situations give me special access of any kind.

Sure my LinkedIn and Facebook networks are well populated with National Public Radio personalities, political journalists and professional campaign staffers from Democratic campaigns back to the days of Jimmy Carter, but as my father would say “that and two bucks will get you on the bus” (i.e. no special access or perks from those relationships either).

I was able to connect with Barack Obama on LinkedIn the same way I have connected with many others in my network – I asked him.

Asking one to connect on LinkedIn can take a variety of forms, but if you seek to directly connect with President-Elect Obama I would suggest making it as easy as possible for him (or for the staffer who manages his LinkedIn profile). I’m working on another blog post about just how valuable “Invitations to Connect” on LinkedIn are, but if you seek to directly connect to a President-Elect go ahead and spend an invitation.

If, like many of us, you have had an invitation to connect refused somewhere along your LinkedIn career, and are on rather thin ice with the LinkedIn powers that be, you may find that sending an invitation requires a shared group membership or use of your invitee’s email address.

I believe that I joined the "Obama for America" group, and since the President-Elect was also a member of that Group and Association, we shared membership, and I was able to invite him to connect on that basis.

If you still need an email address to send an invitation, here’s a little “secret” for you – obamaamerica AT

Please pass along my well wishes.

If you are interested to connect with David Barrett, direct connection to Barack Obama, on Linkedin, you may initiate an invitation here -