We all have several networks. Personal, professional, family, faith-based, hobby-based. In general, I have a reasonably diverse network. The one that is the most diverse? My LinkedIn network.
People often ask me how I figure out who should be in my network and how I decide good connections from not-so-great connections. And just yesterday, a client questioned whether you can really have 500 meaningful connections. I do and I think you can depending on how you are using LinkedIn.
First, do you need to have more than 500 connections? No, you don’t. Remember the goal is to always have a highly engaged network. People know you and you know them, that’s key.
If you are using LinkedIn for sales (business development or client development) and/or recruiting you need to build momentum. Here are a couple of ways to do that:
- Increase the size of your network
- Increase the number of Groups you belong to
- Increase participation (engagement) within your Network and within key Groups
Consider what you are trying to do with your LinkedIn network. Do you offer:
- Specialized services to a diverse range of industries, types of organizations, people (That’s what Intero does)
- Specialized services to specific industries, types of organizations, people (i.e. an accounting firm that sells accounting software to small businesses or a promotional marketing company)
- General services to a diverse range of industries, types of organizations, people (i.e. Insurance, IT Managed Service Providers)
- General services to specific industries, types of organizations, people (i.e. content providers specializing in the nonprofit area or within a B2B vertical like technology)
My network is an absolute reflection of working with a range of people in a variety of industries in the for-profit area and a variety of missions in the nonprofit area. I like that.
It’s the perfect way to help others in finding good people to meet and potentially work with. Regardless of what category best represents you above, you can define, expand and tap into a rich network.
According to Demand Gen’s Report 2014 Buyer Behavior Survey—
- 76% of people say they prefer to work with vendors recommended by someone they know
- 73% prefer to work with SALESPEOPLE recommended by someone they know
I have great people who lead and/or work for great companies, small, mid-sized and large. It’s pretty easy for me to mention someone I know in a particular business. What’s the point of having a strong network if it’s not useful to you and others?
I can make the case that the more useful your network is to others the more useful it will be to you in the long run.
There are three or four coffee shops/cafés in Baltimore that are go-to places for business professionals to meet. People visit those places not because they have great coffee but because they are easy to get to, interesting people are there, there’s a definite energy or vibe and people know it’s a place to be seen. I can think of a dozen times I have gone to meet someone for coffee and saw other people I know and did some quick networking. Being seen keeps us top of mind.
Think of your LinkedIn network as the cafe. The more people that go there, the more you want to go there and the more benefit there is to everyone. People say hello, remind themselves they need to call you, catch up, introduce people to one another. It’s the community hub. Be the owner of your own private, virtual café—your network. The café owner thinks of new ways to keep their place interesting and relevant—new menu offerings (adding and updating your profile), fast wi-fi (being on LinkedIn every day), hosting small events (participating in Group discussions), changing up the design, style or table arrangement (creating, posting, sharing different types of content).
Translate that to your network—
- Ask people what they are up to, how you can help them, who they are interested in networking with.
- Watch what they post, like and comment on it.
- Notice what Groups they are in. Does it make sense for you to join any of those Groups?
- Check out some of the people they are connected to (2nd level connections); would you benefit from knowing them?
- Be a connector— make intentional introductions for others.
Are there people I don’t know well? Absolutely. Some I should know better? Absolutely.
When I think of my LinkedIn network, I am grateful to connect with and know accomplished professionals who do great work every day. As I consider how I can add even more value to my network, I invite you to learn more about some of my connections. You may even consider connecting with them.
Many of them are CEOs and lots of people want to connect with them so don’t assume they will automatically connect. In fact, many are discriminating connectors. So, NO selling here, please. Give them a reason to connect with you or just learn more. This is a random selection from my LinkedIn network below and I will continue, over time, to showcase a broad group of my connections.
- Kurt Steiner, CEO, CharityHowTo — webinars for nonprofits
- John Leahy, CEO, Target Marketing Group — branded products and online programs
- Eliot Wagonheim, Principal, Wagonheim Law — legal services to small and mid-sized businesses
- Rich Rubinstein, CEO, America’s Remote Help Desk — IT solutions to businesses and law firms
- Larry Eason, CMO, ieCrowd —breakthrough innovations into solutions to address global challenges
- Susan Bishop, Principal, Unlocked Box — personal and business coach focused on creativity, branding and change
- Yvonne Lyons, Vice President of Content Marketing, Right Source Marketing — strategic marketing and digital services
- Roy Fazio, CEO, Protocall Group — employment recruitment and staffing firm
- Brian Myrick, Technologist, Interversant — technology consulting
- Michael Paul, Partner, Direct Mortgage Loans — licensed direct mortgage lender
- Marc Halpert, Multipreneur, connect2collaborate— LinkedIn Trainer and Evangelist (we often share and collaborate)
You see, we are using LinkedIn for the same purpose hopefully; to build meaningful business connections to help us influence and drive our business goals. For me and Intero Advisory that includes brand awareness, training and consulting opportunities, and recruiting of high-capacity people for Intero and our clients.
I want to create a vibrant, diverse café rich in conversation, intention and results. Don’t you?