I Reached Out To 2000 Of My LinkedIn Connections: Here’s What I Learned About Networking

Background

A couple of years ago I had 1500 LinkedIn Connections. Then I started using LinkedIn Publisher and writing articles about using LinkedIn every week. And I started receiving connection invitations. Lots of them. Even accepting well less than half of them, I was adding fifty connections a week. Last year I realized that my connection network was made up of a lot of people I had connected with but didn’t know aside from reading their profiles. So I started a program of reaching out to my connections, sending individual personalized messages one at a time (I refuse to use that automated mass messaging crap) and inviting them to a 15 minute phone or Skype call to find out more about each other.  Over time I sent these messages to 2000 of my connections and wound up having several hundred conversations. Here is some of what I learned.

Networking is undervalued, under practiced and misunderstood

Most LinkedIn members these days seem to have at least five hundred  connections, but never seem to do anything with them once they are connected.  Their networks are more like collections of people than a network of connections. The calls I made and the conversations I had allowed me to get to know these connections better. And that information was what I needed in order to be able to properly recognize opportunities to introduce them to other people in my network. A LinkedIn profile can only tell you so much. When you talk to someone, you can really find what makes them tick and where their real interests are.

Networking sets you apart

LinkedIn is a networking tool, but almost no one networks on LinkedIn. I had people that were kind of boggled that I was doing this. I had people with fifteen hundred or two thousand connections saying “No one has ever asked me to talk with them. Everyone just wants to send messages.”

You need a plan, you can’t just call people for no reason

I am really confident that if someone comes to me and starts to say, “Bruce, do you know someone who can…?” that I will have some good people that I can refer them to. People that aren’t just profiles and a photo but someone I have talked to.

And in return, I think many of them know enough about my specialties that they could recognize opportunities and point people in my direction.

I didn’t do this whole exercise to pitch people. Most of my clients come to me to learn how to use Sales Navigator more effectively. Most of my connections don’t have Sales Navigator and are not prospects for my business. However, each of those connections might know one hundred people who do have Sales Navigator.  

This is the power of networking. I don’t look at my connections as possible prospects, I look at them as possible sales channels. They know hundreds of people that I don’t, and they are in a position to recommend or introduce me to those people. And I am in a position to do the same for them.

There are no guarantees, and you have to be okay with that

Networking is a transaction where nothing may result. Or nothing may result for a long time. And the two people on both sides of this transaction have to be okay with that. No promises. I usually wind up making several introductions or referrals  on LinkedIn every week. And I tend to get several referrals and introductions through my connections every week. But there are no expectations and no guarantees and that’s fine. I trust it to work.

Was this a lot of work? Yes. Several hours every week. Big enough that I had to set aside time every week to do it. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I didn’t spend that time, I invested it.

I will have a couple articles with more about what I learned sometime on the next few weeks.