In one way or another, you have access to nearly 610 Million people who are on LinkedIn. Even if these LinkedIn Members are not active on LinkedIn, purposefully networking on LinkedIn is a powerful way to get into the right conversations with the right people, at the right time.
I routinely remind my clients of two important business process facts of LinkedIn Networking.
#1 You do not have to connect with every Tom, Dick, and Betty on LinkedIn. No disrespect to all the Toms, Dicks and Bettys on LinkedIn, they could be fabulous people. I’ll tell them as well, not to connect with every George, Harry or Sylvia on LinkedIn either. I use a very deliberate philosophy to decide who I should connect with. Relevance is at the core of this philosophy. I use the word relevance broadly around life, business, career, community, industry, role, interest and curiosity.
#2 There are two people you should connect with on LinkedIn (and in life). I urge everyone who wants to get the greatest value from their LinkedIn Network to make a new connection every day of their life. The more you network on LinkedIn the easier it becomes to network on LinkedIn.
Many years ago LinkedIn used to show the size of our 2nd level network. Back when I only had a few thousand connections I remember this number being close to 13Million people. Today I am fortunate to have a large and highly relevant LinkedIn Network. As I research new LinkedIn Connections today it has become far easier to connect with them.
The old quote of “6 degrees from Kevin Bacon” has morphed into my quote, “2 degrees away from my Most Important Viewer”.
Here are the two people you should connect with on LinkedIn:
(A) People you can help
These are the people you could help in some way or another.
Maybe it’s your ability to encourage, motivate, inform or educate them through the content you share and the ideas you bring to relevant conversations.
Maybe you can help them through a direct conversation over a LinkedIn or email message or even a quick phone call.
Maybe you can help them by alerting them of future opportunities you discover from your LinkedIn Network that they could benefit from.
Maybe they need help connecting with that a LinkedIn Connection who could be the most profound connection and conversation they have ever made.
(B) People who can help you
These are the people who can help you in some way or another, either in business, life, community or career.
Maybe you can get encouragement, motivation or educated from their content and engagement in relevant conversations.
Maybe you can get into an open and mutually beneficial conversation with them via LinkedIn message, email, quick phone call or visit.
Maybe as your relationship and reputation grow with them, they would be able/willing to introduce you to your next great LinkedIn Connection, (i.e. a potential client).
Maybe these LinkedIn Members are actually your Most Important Viewer (target audience) and again, as your relationship and reputation grow with them, they would be open to a direct business conversation which could turn a LinkedIn Connection into a prospect or better yet a client.
You can adjust my definitions of People you can help and People who can help you as you wish to best fit your specific business or career goals. However, don’t disrespect the core definitions by driving them down to ‘people I can sell to’.
If you are not networking on LinkedIn for mutual benefit, as we should in life, I can guarantee you’ll get far less long term value from networking.
One of the truly rewarding aspects of networking with these two people on LinkedIn is that often one becomes the other. Sometimes you don’t see it happening until the person you thought needed your help introduces you to someone they know well who needs your services, products or skills. And, maybe that person you connect with who became a client, personally needs your help with their own goals.
Two additional important aspects of networking on LinkedIn, which I am committed to are:
- My research (searching) on LinkedIn is focused on people who can help me. This is typically influencers or my Most Important Viewer.
- I immediately engage with everyone I connect with on LinkedIn. I think it’s a huge missed opportunity when LinkedIn Members fail to do this.
The amount of time I invest in my immediate engagement is based on the potential value this LinkedIn Connection could have to my business goals. Often those I can help will get a friendly LinkedIn message thanking them for the connection and letting them know I will help them in any way I can. Those who I believe can help me (often the influencers or my Most Important Viewers) may get a phone call or business email message thanking them for the connection and inviting them to a conversation regarding their business goals or needs. No sales pitch, ever.
I strive to live by my edit of “Networking is finding, developing and nurturing relationships that mutually move people forward through life.” As I discovered the potential of networking on LinkedIn I encourage all LinkedIn Members to do the same.
If your sales team needs to understand and start networking on LinkedIn purposefully, let’s talk.