Business partners, by the very nature of the bond, are few in number.
By contrast, you probably have hundreds of distant colleagues that play a role in your professional life. These people are former co-workers, classmates or just interesting people you met at a conference.
Sociologists classify this as ‘weak ties’ since you have spent a small amount of low-intensity time with these people, but you’re still friendly. Weak ties reside outside your inner circle and offer a greater chance to expose you to new information you’d otherwise miss (like Lisa next to me here).
Weak-ties are helpful, really?!
A weak-tie connection is helpful because their social circle or industry niche can create different opportunities. If your connections have an identical background to yours, then your social network will be redundant. Think about connecting with professionals who will add diversity and broaden the overall reach of your LinkedIn network.
Your business partners, weak ties and all the other people you know are your LinkedIn first degree connections. But your friends and colleagues know people you don’t. These friends of friends are your second-degree LinkedIn connections that monetize your activity on LinkedIn (help make you money on social media); in other words, you are one person away from a warm introduction to your targeted professional.
Suppose you have 50 LinkedIn connections and each connection has 35 other friends, who in turn have 65 unique friends. If you do the math, that’s 50 x 35 x 65 = 113,750 people you can reach via an introduction. And that is the power of online networking; at least one person is acquainted with the person you’d like to meet.
If you spend about 5 or 10 minutes on a person’s LinkedIn professional profile, your invitation to connect will stand out. Like dating, you are seeking a common interest to spark the link. “I noticed that you are a Steelers fan – my hometown is Pittsburgh. Any chance that we could swap notes about business opportunities?” I recommend that you schedule time in your workday as a daily ritual to build out your LinkedIn network, just like scheduling to meet someone for coffee.
When you want to meet a new person into your second level or third level of connections, you should ask for an introduction. Be direct and specific.
Don’t say – “I’d love to meet Rebecca because she works in the medical industry.”
Do say – “I’m interested in meeting Rebecca because my company is seeking early adopters of (fill in the blank.) like hers.” There is an implied benefit to both parties.
A “closed network” means that each person within your LinkedIn network is personally known to you or your peers, meaning people from your inner circle. Organic connections are a slow-build strategy, but if you allocate about 15 minutes before or after each workday, you’ll invite professionals who will be career-worthy LinkedIn connections for now and into the future. Your community will be smaller and more private.
Clone your network
Search for professionals using keywords for strategic alliances to increase your geographic reach or extend into related industries. For example, if you are seeking to link with dentists, dental suppliers who visit many dentists might be a good target group when adding LinkedIn connections to your network. Financial advisors might search for job changers as prospects for 401k rollover plans. Morgan Stanley clients have been highly successful with this approach.
Get to 500+ connections
Are you not satisfied with your network connections? If your connections haven’t reached 500+ yet, consider linking with Super Connectors, those super-sized LinkedIn professionals who have exhausted their 3,000 invitations but still want to increase their online net worth. TopLinked.com will provide the steps to increase your connections quickly, if organic growth alone isn’t suitable for your purposes.