Numbers are always interesting to consider. Take for instance the 40+ million users on LinkedIn (not an official number but an educated guess). That’s a pretty impressive number. But, more important is the number of people that are active. The value of one member in your network is not equal to the value of another.
But how do you place a value on each member? A person in your network with 50 connections could be more valuable then one with 500 connections. That being said, the likelyhood is that the person with 500 connections is more active and thus will provide more value.
This thought got me to thinking about my network so I decided to take a look to see how active it was in terms of connections. My network has grown over time primarily through networking, so I think it’s breakdown is representative of the average member network.
Here’s a breakdown of my network based on the range of connections each person has:
- 0 – 99: 54.4%
- 100 -199: 23.2%
- 200 – 299: 9.3%
- 300 – 399: 4.2%
- 400 – 499: 1.8%
- 500+: 7.1%
77.6% of my network has less than 200 connections and more than half have less than 100 connections. I would argue that with the number of people on LinkedIn and the ease of connecting, if you have less than 200 connections you’re not that active of a user. If I take these percentages and apply them to the 40 million LinkedIn user base, I can assume that LI only has about 9 million active users (members with more than 200 connections).
Some people will argue that basing value on the number of connections is missing the point. They would say that the value is based on how connected you are to your network. I used to agree with this perspective. Now I don’t.
Over time I’ve come to realize that opportunities are not determined strictly by those you know. Opportunity also exists with those you don’t know. You just might not have discovered the opportunity yet.
I started becoming active on LinkedIn when a member that I did not know contacted me based on my profile to help some client’s of hers. And that’s the point. You never know when opportunity will knock, but I can tell you that the more active you are, the more connections you have, and the larger your network, the more probability of success you will have.
If LinkedIn is a way to get your message and brand out to others, then it’s really a marketing vehicle. I sell insurance and if I only worked with those I know, I wouldn’t be very successful. Granted it’s an easier sell to those I know. But it doesn’t benefit me to restrict my message.
Each new connection is a new set of eyeballs available to review my profile to determine if I can help them. It’s a new set of eyballs when I answer a question, post a recommendation, add an application and when I update my “What are you doing now” micro-post. They are also potential opportunities to my network.
Even better, as these folks hopefully become more active and add connections, my network and reach grows with them.
Too many people are waiting around for someone else to tell them how to use LinkedIn. You can definitely learn from others, but in the end you have to take what you learn and apply it to your unique situation.
Have you started using LinkedIn productively? Have you figured out how to take it from a nice social networking tool and convert it to a money making opportunity?