Your 2 Critical LinkedIn Networks

Last week I covered some tips to Optimize Your Profile which was the first part of the Three Basic Keys to LinkedIn.  Today we cover the second Key…Building Your Network.
You can have the best profile on LinkedIn but if your network is not significant enough it won’t matter.  You have to connect to others.  If you’re more of an open networker, you’ll find it easier to build your network.  If you’re more restrictive in whom you connect to then you’re going to have to get out and meet people.
Your Direct Network:
I’ve heard different number as far as how many direct connections you need to have…100, 250, 500, or more.  What I do know is that 100 connections is probably better than 50 and 500 is probably better than 250.  My thoughts are that if you get active in your community you should be able to build up at least 500 local connections.
I got lucky on LinkedIn.  When I received my first referral from another member I only had 19 connections.  That was enough to wake me up to the potential.  The spigot didn’t start flowing immediately but as my network grew little by little so did the referrals.
Another benefit I noticed was that connecting on LinkedIn added another degree of depth to my relationships within my chamber.  It gave me a point of reference and an immediate ice breaker the next time I saw the connection.
During the next year I grew my network by sending connection invitations to everyone that attended the networking events I attended.  In the invitation I simply said, “Our paths crossed today at the Chamber meeting.  We didn’t have an opportunity to meet but I am using LinkedIn to enhance my networking.  I’d like to extend an invitation to connect”.
If I actually met them then I added a note about our talk.  Personalizing your invitations will increase the likelihood of it being accepted.  Avoid using the canned LinkedIn invitation, it doesn’t say much about you or why you want to connect.  It makes a difference.
I currently have about 2,800 direct connections and about 800 of these are local.  Some of these connections I know some are simply part of a network.   I’ve heard the arguments that connecting to those you don’t know devalues your network.  I simply disagree.
Last week I introduced a connection I didn’t know to another connection I didn’t know.  I was simply the hub in the process but the introduction was made.  The value of that introduction remains to be seen but an opportunity has been created.
How you choose to connect is a decision you have to make.  For me open networking has been a good choice.
Your Group Network
Most people are aware of their group network but don’t realize that they have a Group network as well.  The people that belong to the same groups as you are represent a network.  I define a network on LinkedIn based on my ability to communicate a message.  Groups allow you to do that.
If your primary reason for being on LinkedIn to network then the only value in groups is their ability to help you find more people to connect to.  If you’re on LinkedIn to make money, and you should be, then you’ll realize that the value of groups is that they extend your reach.
I may have 2,800 connections but the 50 groups I’m in now have over 800,000 people.  Locally the groups I’m in extend my reach from 800 local professionals to over 30,000.  That’s a healthy extension of my reach on LinkedIn.
The beauty of groups is that they are formed around a uniting factor.  It could be a location such as Linked Georgia (have to be a resident of Georgia), a type of employment such as Self Employed Atlanta (be self employed and live in the Atlanta Metro), and alumni group such as Georgia southern University (graduated from the University), or even based on LinkedIn recommendations such as Top Recommended People (have 10 recommendations or more).
You simply need to identify the groups that your prospects belong to and join.  Then begin interacting and communicating with them.
Your networks represent opportunity.  Each person in your networks is a potential client, referral partner, business alliance, or simply a hub that could help you connect into an opportunity.  You determine the size and scope.
Next week we’ll talk about how to start leveraging LinkedIn to take advantage of your “killer” profile and the network you’re building.

Last week I covered some tips to Optimize Your Profile which was the first part of the Three Basic Keys to LinkedIn.  Today we cover the second Key…Building Your Network.

You can have the best profile on LinkedIn but if your network is not significant enough it won’t matter.  You have to connect to others.  If you’re more of an open networker, you’ll find it easier to build your network.  If you’re more restrictive in whom you connect to then you’re going to have to get out and meet people.

Your Direct Network:
I’ve heard different numbers as far as how many direct connections you need to have…100, 250, 500, or more.  I’m not sure that there is a definitive number, but what I do know is that 100 connections is probably better than 50 and 500 is probably better than 250.  My thoughts are that if you get active in your community you should be able to build up at least 500 local connections.

I got lucky on LinkedIn.  When I received my first referral from another member I only had 19 connections.  That was enough to wake me up to the potential.  The spigot didn’t start flowing immediately but as my network grew little by little so did the referrals.

Another benefit I noticed was that connecting on LinkedIn added another degree of depth to my relationships within my chamber.  It gave me a point of reference and an immediate ice breaker the next time I saw the connection.

During the next year I grew my network by sending connection invitations to everyone that attended the networking events I attended.  In the invitation I simply said, “Our paths crossed today at the Chamber meeting.  We didn’t have an opportunity to meet but I am using LinkedIn to enhance my networking.  I’d like to extend an invitation to connect”.

If I actually met them then I added a note about our conversation.  Personalizing your invitations will increase the likelihood of it being accepted.  Avoid using the canned LinkedIn invitation, it doesn’t say much about you or why you want to connect.  It makes a difference.

I currently have about 2,800 direct connections and about 800 of these are local.  Some of these connections I know some are simply part of a network.   I’ve heard the arguments that connecting to those you don’t know devalues your network.  I simply disagree.

Last week I introduced a connection I didn’t know to another connection I didn’t know.  I was simply the hub in the process but the introduction was made.  The value of that introduction remains to be seen but an opportunity has been created.

How you choose to connect is a decision you have to make.  For me openly connecting has been a good decision.

Your Group Network
Most people are aware of their Direct network but don’t realize that they have a Group network as well.  The people that belong to the same groups as you represent a network.  I define a network on LinkedIn based on my ability to communicate a message.  Groups allow you to do that.

If your primary reason for being on LinkedIn is to network then the only value in groups is their ability to help you find more people to connect to.  If you’re on LinkedIn to make money, and you should be, then you’ll realize that the value of groups is that they extend your reach.

I may have 2,800 direct connections but the 50 groups I’m in now have over 800,000 people.  Locally the groups I’m in extend my reach from 800 local professionals to over 30,000.  That’s a healthy extension of my reach on LinkedIn.

The beauty of groups is that they are formed around a uniting factor.  It could be a location such as Linked Georgia (have to be a resident of Georgia), a type of employment such as Self Employed Atlanta (be self employed and live in the Atlanta Metro), an alumni group such as Georgia southern University (graduated from the University), or even based on LinkedIn recommendations such as Top Recommended People (have 10 recommendations or more).

You simply need to identify the groups that your prospects belong to and join.  Then begin interacting and communicating with them.

Wrap Up:
Your networks represent opportunity.  Each person in your networks is a potential client, referral partner, business alliance, or simply a hub that could help you connect into an opportunity.  They also provide a larger audience to provide value to.  You determine the size and scope.

Next week we’ll talk about how to start leveraging LinkedIn to take advantage of your “killer” profile and the network you’re building.  What’s your connection strategy?

**If you would like to learn more about how to use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Business Blogs to grow you business, SONAR Connects offers two options:

  1. Social Media Training that teaches you how to optimize your accounts, build communities of friends, followers, and connections, and how to monetize social networking and social media.
  2. Social Networking/Media Management: We take on the responsibility for managing your social media accounts including creating and writing your business blog.

Social Media Sonar provides the following four resources for FREE… 1.  The Blog, 2. The Online Marketing/Social Media Blueprint, 3.  Conversion Rate Optimization Guide, 4.  Resource Center.  If these help you implement your own online marketing program, great. We love helping people. If you decide you need some help, great. We love new clients.  Contact Us if we can help you.

Published by

Sean Nelson

Sean has been a Keynote speaker at Norvax University, conducts social media workshops and webinars, and has released three books on LinkedIn and written several social media guides. Sean currently runs Social Media Sonar, which in addition to providing free resources, manages social media strategies and tactics for companies. He is also a partner in Surge Labs, a conversion rate optimization company, helping companies improve conversions and profitability through scientific testing of Landing Pages, Websites, Email communications, and Shopping Carts.

12 thoughts on “Your 2 Critical LinkedIn Networks”

  1. thanks Sean for attempting to bring me up to date. I moved to central Mexico From 35 active years in Florida real estate. I am still in real estate building a web page to market tis very unique area of Mexico, Morelia, Michoacan. 470 year old, very affordable city with an incredible climate at 7,000 feet in altitude and 3 hours(by car) from great pacific beaches. I have a lot to talk about and need to find the connections to listen. Thanks for the information! Al Dana

  2. Great post, as usual, Sean. I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, and I’m working on getting members of my firm on the site to help them network in our local business communities. I have used the site to make numerous connections leading to significant business discussions. If you’re in business, there’s no reason not to be connected.

  3. Sean,

    I have been beating that same drum about being ‘open’ to LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn’s tag line is ‘Relationships Matter’ … need I say more!

    Thanks again for what you do!

    Robert

  4. Robert,

    you play drums and I’ll play guitar. My success on LinkedIn changed significantly once I opened up to connecting to more people.

    Sean

  5. Thanks Sean, Great post. I have been building my network with people I have worked with or have done business with in the past. After reading your blog, I will start using my groups to make new connection
    Thanks again, Joe

  6. Sean, another helpful article. Two queries, why do members DNK you when they can simply ignore, if not interested in connecting (the main point to LinkedIn). Do they realize it puts the person’s accessibility to LinkedIn in jeopardy (cruel and unusual punishment if you ask me)? Also, as an open networker, do you increase the DNK response probability?
    Orietta

  7. Orietta,

    I believe that most IDK’s occur because the person does not understand the impact and they truly do not know the person. I was working with a client th other day who had 3 IDK’s and all three were from people with less than 10 connections. I’d like to see LinkedIn add a confirmation screen that explained the potential effects and ask “Are you sure you want to select IDK”.

    But they won’t do that. I have a the group Georgia Open Networkers which is for people who reside in Georgia and are open networkers. In the group information I posted that choosing the IDK option is not an option if you want to be a member of the group. LinkedIn suspended the group until I removed the language.

    LinkedIn has their perception of how people should network and really are not concerned with how members might see things differently. In the end it’s their ball and if you want to play you have to play by their rules.

    As far as receiving more IDK’s because I’m an open networker, I have not seen these increase. But I am very careful about who I send an invitation to. Most of my connections are the result of others sending me an invitation to connect.

    Sean

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