What I Have Learned About Introductions and Referrals After Reaching Out to 2000 LinkedIn Connections

(skip the first paragraph if you have read either of my previous “2000 connections” posts)

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.

Almost without fail, everyone I spoke with could think of someone to introduce me to right away. I think that while people know what you do, it is not until you have a  conversation that they understand what really sets you apart. This could be because they haven’t read your profile lately (and who does?), or because  having the actual conversation prompts them to start thinking of people that you should meet.

And this gets to the heart of having these conversations: discovering the unknown paths to interesting people. Your connections are the path. The truth is you can be successful on LinkedIn without a premium account. If you have 500 connections with 500 connections each you have 250,000 second degree connections, and a lot of them are going to be people in a position to help you and that you can help in return.

Here’s an experiment for you: Go take a company you would like to be involved with, whether as a customer, supplier, or potential employer. Now look among that company’s employees for any second level connections, your two’s. Your connections are the pathway to those two’s. And if you are like a lot of LinkedIn users and you are probably saying, “yeah, but I don’t really know my connection who knows that person very well.” Well, I have one thing to say to you: that’s why you should be reaching out and having these 15 minute introductory conversations.  

And one other thing, when you get introduced by a connection to someone new  you start with the most valuable commodity of all: credibility. The connection that introduces you is in effect saying, “This person is worth ten minutes of your time. I’ll vouch for them.” That credibility is fleeting and only gets you that first few minutes, but that’s more than you would get trying email, cold calls, blind invitations to connect, InMail or even “warm” social selling outreach.

Your connections are ambassadors that can introduce you to the people that you would like to know. Shouldn’t you get to know those ambassadors?

 

Statistics For LinkedIn Articles And Posts Are Back! (Sort of…)

Last week I noticed that some of the statistics for published articles and post on LinkedIn had come back.

In addition to the total views, likes and comments, you can now see the top nine each of:

  • Which companies your viewers are from
  • The titles for viewers
  • The geographic areas your visitors are from
  • And how they found your article or post

But there are a couple of asterisks.

I am skeptical about some of the statistics. If one person comes back multiple times to comment, reply to comments, or re-read the comments thread, they appear to be counted as a “view” each time they return. I have had this happen recently on multiple articles: LinkedIn tells me that people from “XYZ company” viewed my article 17 times. It turns out XYZ company is a consultancy with one consultant.

And although this hasn’t happened to me, numerous people have reported view counts that go down instead of up. 400 views of an article as of yesterday, but only registering 380 this morning, that type of thing.

Another example can be seen in the screen cap I used for this post. The article was a general interest personal development one I shared, written by one of my connections. It had over 1600 views at that point. Now what are the odds that four of the top five companies for a general interest article would be pharma companies? Or that “Laboratory Scientist” would be the title of more viewers – by a mile – than any other?

Another oddity is in the “biggest audience” metric in the column at top right. More views from Boston than anywhere else. But how many more? I don’t know as there is no number. But LinkedIn will show me how many came from the second through ninth geographic areas. I wonder if LinkedIn was in a hurry when they decided to reinstate these stats?

And there are still no statistics on who shared your post – oddly the number of times your post or article was shared shows on the post itself, but is omitted from the statistics.

Question: If sharing isn’t that important, why does LinkedIn make a big deal of it in their social selling index? Then again, this wouldn’t be the first time LinkedIn has sent mixed signals.

So…good to see statistics back, but like many aspects of the new User Interface, still a few bugs to be ironed out, and a bit of work required on that whole sharing thing.

I Reached Out To 2000 Of My LinkedIn Connections: I Now Have An “A” Network And A “B” Network.

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.

The result is I now have an “A” network and a “B” network.

Over half the people I asked for introductory phone or Skype conversations never responded. But it’s not just in this instance: I have sent messages to connections telling them I wanted to refer business to them and got no response. Which also raises the interesting question: If you don’t wish to interact with your connections, why are you connected with them in the first place? 

So I now have an “A” network – the connections I have spoken with and that I understand better based on the conversations I had with them – and a “B” network, those connections I have never had a real person to person conversation with. For example, I have dozens of connections that design websites. Four or five of them I have had conversations with. Now I really understand them better, what their specialties are, and who makes a good fit for them. I trade messages with them, they are a resource in their specialties when I need them. And guess who gets referrals?  I subconsciously “work” on behalf of my “A” network. Don’t get me wrong, I value my “B” network. But it is my “B” network. Maybe they will become “A’s” one day.  

Connecting with someone should be the start of a professional relationship, but for many LinkedIn members it seems to be the end.