How large should my network be? Should I even care?
In today’s super-connected social era, where we connect, tweet, Like, share, post, and follow each other everywhere – we sometimes forget that real business success still depends on real human, solid, offline, high touch relationships. High-trust based relationships still really matter.
People will always choose to do business with people they trust. Anyone can create a LinkedIn profile that looks great, that is just the beginning. The goal is not to just connect online, it’s to take it offline. You can’t just “like” or tweet a relationship. High touch, value based relationships will move you forward faster than a million “likes”.
The only role for the social networks and LinkedIn specifically, is to get things started and to overcome any geographical limitations. Now, global relationships are at your fingertips. The purpose of it all is to create the desire in you to actually meet the individual behind the profile – or at least have a phone call. If the relationship remains as a connection, it’s nice, it’s helpful for accessing new relationships, and you may even make some sales, but don’t confuse a connection with a long term client, partner, or a friend.
With that said, here are 4 things to keep in mind when using LinkedIn:
1. Don’t just “BE” on LinkedIn – Engage with people. Be an active participant in your specific market, and the community as a whole. Leave your mark where it counts, comment with value and share information that your network will appreciate. That’s how they begin to “know” you – and possibly like what you have to offer their company as a professional or even as student.
2. Don’t just connect with people – change your mindset to meet, engage, and HELP people.
Opportunities don’t fall from the sky. They come from people who provide access to new relationships and have problems you can help solve with your knowledge, product or service.
3. Have an end in mind: Taking the relationship offline to make it a long lasting one.
When I connect with an individual that I want to know better, I always send a “thank you for connecting” email, offering my assistance with introductions and expertise. People respond VERY well to that because most people don’t send such an email, so you can differentiate yourself off the bat. Often, the email will spark an interest in a conversation that can lead to incredible new opportunities.
4. Don’t focus too much on the numbers – but who you are connecting with and why.
LinkedIn is about REAL relationships. Not just numbers. I’d rather connect with one influential leader, than 100 “average Joe’s”. Ultimately, the one leader will open up a network that is high quality and spans much further. Plus, it’s always great to surround yourself with people who are better and more experienced than you are – both online and off it.
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