Today I celebrated reaching 10,000 first level connections on LinkedIn. While I am excited to have such a large and diverse network of just under 18 million professionals across the world, there are a number of challenges I face going forward. I have discovered that maintaining and growing such a network seems to be a job on its own. The amount of mail and correspondence generated from my LinkedIn network is incredible. At one stage I had to change my settings to limit the amount of mail from LinkedIn that reached my external mail. However, I am logged into my LinkedIn account most of the time so I do not miss any mail.
SLOW-DOWN – I look a conscious decision recently to slow down the growth of my network. At one stage I was getting as many as 20 to 30 connections a day but I thought this was just not sustainable. I was a open networker at some stage but stopped my membership to the groups and this seemed to help.
I am also grateful for the huge opportunities that have come about as a results of this network built over the past 3 years. I have met a lot of great people over the years through LinkedIn and there have been direct benefits to my career and business. My last job was from a LinkedIn connection and a fair amount of business has flowed as a direct result of LinkedIn.
Some of the questions I face at this point in time and going forward include the following:
RELEVANCE – How do I continue to be relevant to my connections and network?
VALUE – How do I add value to my network, new and old members of my network? If members of my network see themselves as just numbers and statistics then is there any point to the relationship or networking?
INFORMATION – How do I share information that is relevant to such a big and diverse network cutting across several geographies and industries?
RETURN ON INVESTMENT – Is there a return on investment given the time I spend on LinkedIn? How can I reliably measure such return?
CONNECTING MORE – At the network grows bigger can I not do more to connect professionals within the network? For example Recruiters with jobseekers, Sales and Business Development people with potential customers. Of course this must be done with full and prior consent from the concerned parties.
Bigger networks come with more responsibility and require more time and effort to maintain but also greater opportunities via the professionals we connect with. Maintaining may not be enough as everyone wants to see real value. I am very excited about the future. Your LinkedIn Coach.