If you are an average LinkedIn user, you may have something on the order of five hundred connections.
A few questions to ponder:
Why are you connected with them?
What is the purpose of your connections?
If you have five hundred connections, does that mean four hundred is bad and six hundred would be better?
What do you want from them?
What do they want from you?
How much do you interact with them?
What do you know about them? “My connection Bob Smith is an engineering consultant.” Great. What type of engineering? What’s his real specialty? Who are his typical clients? Industry? Local? National? Big companies? Startups? What’s that? You say you don’t have time to find all that out about him. I see. And why are you connected with Bob then? Because he may refer clients to you? You want nothing to do with helping him but you hope he helps you? Well, good luck with that.
Many LinkedIn users seem to have connection networks that are a mile wide and an inch deep. They collect connections but never talk to them. These connections are assets. These are the people that have the ability to open doors for you. Ignoring them isn’t an optimal strategy. You will notice I said “they collect connections but never talk to them.” I used the word “talk” for a reason.
Not automated messaging, not bots, not templates.
Not LinkedIn messaging, not text, not email.
I have conversations with a lot of my connections, especially with people I have not met prior to meeting them through LinkedIn. Want to know what the first thing is they usually say to me when we talk via Skype or phone?
“This is the first time I have had one of these calls. No one does this on LinkedIn.”
Think about that statement for a minute. What does it say about LinkedIn and LinkedIn users when a LinkedIn member is surprised when one of their connections wants to talk to them?
LinkedIn is supposed to be about professional networking, yet it seems hardly anybody does. When did connections become something to be collected and pulled out and admired from time to time like old baseball cards? A LinkedIn network isn’t numbers, it’s people.
I set aside time time to have calls with ten or fifteen of my connections every week. Every week. Just fifteen minutes each. But in that fifteen minutes I find out what their real specialties are. What they are passionate about. And that helps me help them. In January I introduced twenty-four of my connections to people I thought might be a good fit for them. And a lot of the connections I spoke with referred people to me. The result is new connections and new business, for both my connections and myself.
If you are like most LinkedIn users, you come to LinkedIn, read a couple of articles, add a like or a comment, follow a company or two, and call it “networking.” Instead, invest just a little effort in talking to a few of your connections. You will stand head and shoulders above their other connections, because hardly anyone networks on LinkedIn, and almost no one networks effectively.