Phil Shipperlee is a regular contributor to the Business in Berkshire LinkedIn Group so I asked him for his two penneth on LinkedIn engagement and he gave me six pence 😉 Enjoy…
There is a rolling debate between those who think they should have as many LinkedIn connections as possible and those that think they should limit the number. I am in the camp of limiting the numbers and I maintain my list of business connections around 350. Most people say to me; surely the more the merrier, the more connections you have the more likely it is someone will remember you when they need something or perhaps one of their connections will find you. My question is; how likely is it that someone who’s only contact with me will have been something like a comment I made in a LinkedIn group discussion remembering me even a couple of weeks later let alone months or even years?
If you don’t qualify and filter connection requests before accepting them, or before you send your own, you are just building a list of randomly selected individuals; rather like a pin in the yellow pages which could lead to you getting a takeaway delivered to your door when what you needed was a plumber.
I am influenced in my choice to limit the number of connections I have by two pieces of research; Robin Dunbar’s number and the six degrees of separation. However the six degrees does not allow for the deterioration in strength of bond and therefore trust that will occur as you get more steps away from you. So, my approach is to have a well-defined, small network (connections and groups) of people whose opinion I respect, that could potentially help me or who could need my help at some point. I think small and focused is the best way to build deep meaningful relationships which have the potential to deliver mutual value.
Tips on how to make LinkedIn effective:
• Whether you are going big and wide or small and deep, be selective;
o Only invite people who fall into a logical grouping based on your business or personal interests.
o Select and join groups that represent the things that really matter to you.
Make the invite/request personal and specific; I would like to connect/join your network because …. (What they might expect to gain from connecting with you)
• When accepting invitations use the same rules as above; say yes to people that fit. If in real doubt decline, if in some doubt send them an email asking why they want to connect and if you don’t get an answer*, or like what you get, decline.
*The default invitation text is often an indication of a bulk trawl of their email contact list.
• Endeavour to make individual, relevant contact with people in your network on a regular basis; e-mail, call, newsletter, etc. Not so easy to achieve with a large network.
• Try to meet your contacts; perhaps at networking events but if possible individually.
• Start meaningful discussions, avoiding “XX good ways to …” or just posting a link to a blog. Consider your readers; write a good descriptive headline that helps them understand the point without having to read acres of text.
• Take the time to support your contacts by commenting constructively on their posts in groups or Pulse.
• Consider culling; review your network from time-to-time and if there are people where there has never been contact and who do not fit your preferred profile for connections be brave; delete those connections. Use a similar process to manage your groups.
• Consider your image; profile photograph, description of you, what you stand for, what you do for others and the recommendations you accept. Make the photograph relevant; holding your new born may be good if you run a nursery but less so if you are a business consultant. Enhancing your profile and publishing regular updates will get you noticed as your network receives notification of changes.
Whether you are going big and wide or small and narrow, focus and purpose are the keys to success on LinkedIn.
Thank you Phil Shipperlee for a jolly good read and remember folks make sure you have a bloody good reason to ask him to connect or you may feel tiny when he rejects your approach! It’s OK, he’s not connected to me and I’m still smiling 😉