In today’s ever more connected world it seems that many judge an individuals or business’s worth by the number of connections, followers or fans they have; testament to which has been the rise and rise of ‘purchasable’ likes, shares, followers and fans.
Yet social sway is about so much more than mere numbers; after all, marketing messages (including the message your personal brand exudes…) are carefully crafted upon what can be years of research into a target audience, and today there can be more worth within a singular share that leads to a viral journey around the world, than there can be in 100’s of untargeted connections.
And it isn’t just businesses I’m talking about here.
For the professional seeking out a new career path it may only take a singular connection to lead to the right, life changing position.
Perhaps then it’s more apt to say that relevant, real connections mean everything. This topic is exactly what I’ll be speaking about at AIME this month in my session; Using LinkedIn To Build Credibility, Influence And New Opportunities With Big Business.
LinkedIn: A seriously powerful platform (when used with the right connection strategy)
The clicking of those connection invitations can become addictive and that icon that transforms from a plus to a tick can be strangely satisfying (you know what I mean don’t you?). Yet sending out invites on-mass following no method at all can be a fast track to an inbox filled with spam and a timeline that is positively busting at the seams with irrelevant information, pretty hopeless blog articles and status updates from people who aren’t even in the same industry as you. As can accepting connections willy nilly.
Note: For those not in Australia, is ‘willy nilly’ a term you are familiar with? Aptly describes connections accepted and sent without too much thought!
Now just where is the real value to any of that?
Just as with any target market, you need to identify your audience and your desired network. So just how can you do this? Well it’s pretty simple, actually. And here I break it down into three super easy steps.
Don’t just hit and hope: Research, read, reflect
LinkedIn is the number one tool for building connections that matter, and it provides you with all that you need to truly connect with industry leaders, trade experts and commercial movers and shakers.
To harness this platform for all that it can deliver you need to research, read and reflect.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”: For those who are committed to building a social circle that builds business this phrase has never rang truer than when seeking out influential (and relevant) connections.
‘Who’ is asking you to connect? What sort of role do they have? Do they seem interesting? Do they know other people you know? What sort of background do they have? Can you help them, can they help you? Are you interested in what they might have to say? These questions will help you ensure that your connections matter.
It’s also said that everyone in the world is connected by six degrees of separation, a theory that states that you and anyone else in the world are connected through just 5 acquaintance links. A theory that has proven to be correct (you can test it out to 3 through LinkedIn); take the time to research how you are connected to that person, are there some interesting co-incidences that can strike up a conversation? Don’t hit the accept button, research and take some time to understand who they are.
Once you’ve established just who it is that you should connect with you or who has asked you to connect with, you have some homework on your hands – reading up upon not just who they are but looking at the content they create and their activity.
Let’s take someone who you really want to impress, they may have accepted your connection, or perhaps you are about to send them a connection, read up on their posts, or on the comments they have made on the LinkedIn blogosphere, flattery truly will get you everywhere. Although perhaps that’s going too far, you don’t need to flatter them, but you do need to make an impact. Comment on something they have commented on, expand on their discussion. Your conversation will go direct to their inbox, impact achieved.
This approach to connection building goes beyond a simple message to connect and way past an unsolicited connection request. It is a way of adding value, worth and reason for those connecting with you. Creating a real network.
So, you’ve researched, read and created real connections. How’s it going? Reflecting on your strategy is key to building connections that really matter. So take the time to weigh up the worth of the connection requests that you may be receiving. And approach connection building the same way you approach building your personal friendship network. What’s in it for me and what can I give in return?
If you find the right thing to say, and if you add value to the professional lives of those who listen, you’ll strike a balance that reaps real, relevant connections, as well as respect – something that is far more valuable than any vanity follower, fan or connection tally.
Have you got a strategy that works for you when building your connections? I’d love to know how you manage and grow your network.
I’ve always been apprehensive of LinkedIn. Their email targeting is quite aggressive and people from where I am from (Tasmania) tend to find it to be more of a nuisance than a useful tool, avoiding it and sometimes having LinkedIn emails blocked by their business domain. This sort of thing is always a danger with a new social network – sometimes they are too aggressive during startup and it affects their user-perception for years to come which also translates to how companies perceive the others that use them.
-Google LinkedIn Spam for more details on negative reactions to their invitations. See this TIME magazine article http://time.com/4062519/linkedn-spam-settlement/
With these considerations, do you still think it’s worth using these sorts of services at all? Couldn’t using networks such as these actually be damaging to some relationships especially in less urban areas (such as Tasmania) where business outward ambition/aggression isn’t received well?