LinkedIn has started to push interactivity to its users beyond just checking in weekly on the new connections that your connections have added.
LinkedIn is now encouraging you to say “Congratulations” within 24 hours of when your connections make a change to their current job or job title. But congratulations are not always in order.
Sometimes, your connection has just gotten around to updating their profile – they have had the job for two years and are prepping their profile to make the jump to a less miserable environment. (Hmmm, maybe that is a reason for congratulations, anyway!)
Other times, their change in status is prompted by a job loss, and their new role as “Consultant” is what they are doing to scrape by until they find their next “real job”.
LinkedIn also encourages you to congratulate your connections on their work anniversaries. One of my connections hasn’t updated his profile in a while, so his “work anniversary” was for an employer he hadn’t been at for years.
I think there is great value in interacting with your network over job changes, and to a lesser extent over work anniversaries. Every contact, however small, reinforces the connections you have made, making your network just a little stronger, a little more valuable (to yourself and the rest of your network, too!). It shows you are paying attention, and gives an indication that you care. For those of my connections who have put their birthday on their profiles, I have taken the step of sending them a short note saying “Happy birthday”, wishing them well on a day that means more to them than a work anniversary.
However, in order for these kinds of interactions to provide value, in order to prevent yourself from looking stupid, rubbing salt in a fresh wound, or otherwise committing a social faux pas, you have to PAY ATTENTION. You need to be aware of where the people in your network are, and check to see whether the change is something to congratulate them on, or to ask them how you can help.