Size isn’t everything; it’s what you do with it that counts!
Would you collect something that you never do anything with? Lots of people collect things as hobbies, some of these collections will never be used and have been amassed just to add to their collection with no other goal other than creating a huge collection. I must admit it was quite an eye opener when I did some research for this article, there really are some interesting collections out there, for instance there’s a man in the US that has a collection of 675 back scratchers from 71 different countries, in the UK there’s a lady with a collection of more than 5,000 bars of soap from all over the world and then there’s the man in the Netherlands that has 6,290 airsick bags (unused I might add) from 1,191 different airlines.
Now you might be reading this and you might have raised an eyebrow, a wry smile may have come across your face, but before you sit too comfortably you may well be in possession of your very own collection of things that you are continuing to add to but will never do anything with, I’m referring of course to LinkedIn connections.
The number of connections people acquire has grown rapidly over the years, it wasn’t that long ago that 500 + connections was the mark of a strong network but now it is far more common to come across members with 5,000, 10,000 and even 20,000+ connections. The numbers are growing so much that LinkedIn has themselves placed a cap on the maximum number of connections a member can have at 30,000, but going back to the title of this article, size isn’t everything when it comes to LinkedIn, what really matter is what you do with these connections that counts.
Now clearly there are benefits to having a large network on LinkedIn, a large connection network will certainly help with the concept of 6 degrees of separation and obviously having a large network will benefit you when you post an update and will potentially be viewed by more people, but you may have noticed that there is a huge amount of white noise on LinkedIn with so many people posting and updating that benefit is becoming less reliable.
What are you using your network for?
When I ask this question the most common answer that comes back is to get business, which is a perfectly acceptable answer, but how are you using your network to get business, aside from visibility what are we doing with these connections, on a network where peoples individual networks are growing, simply sharing content is starting to lose its impact.
Being overly salesy and selling to your connections is something that has historically been frowned upon in some circles on these platforms but in reality I have found the opposite to be true, sure you need to have a process of engaging with a connection and I would certainly advise against going straight in with a blunt sales pitch the moment someone connects with you, but over the past few years the teams I have worked with have had a lot of success engaging with their networks through a wider variety of communication outlets and taking the conversation offline and it’s a real game changer when we take people through this approach within our lead generation and prospecting program, one of its key benefits is that it provides an opportunity to differentiate yourself within your network and creates a great platform from which to generate more sales opportunities.
How relevant are the connections in your network?
As well as the question of quantity within your network there is the important questions of quality, over the past five years my philosophy when it comes to my network has almost come full circle, many years ago not long after I had joined LinkedIn I was encouraged to connect with as many people as possible even if they weren’t obviously relevant to my network on the basis that “you don’t know who they know” now whilst there is some logic to that statement that still has some benefit, more recently I have been reviewing my network and for want of a better expression I have been pruning my network to ensure that my connections are almost entirely made up of contacts that are relevant to my sector and the shift in results have certainly backed this up, there will always be exceptions to this rule but the vast majority of the time I will be looking to connect with and accept connections that are relevant to my network.
LinkedIn is without doubt one of the most if not the most powerful business networking platforms in the world, it has over 660 million users worldwide so its potential as a prospecting tool is phenomenal but the most important thing to keep in mind if your goal is to generate business from your network is that the opportunities are out there but as is usually the case in sales very little will come to you, to turn your network into a prospecting goldmine you have to go out and get them, take action, have conversations and be proactive and don’t just collect connections (Unless it is your hobby)
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