It is important that you have a LinkedIn Networking Strategy. The strategy will determine how fast you build your network, the size of your network as well as the quality of the network. Ultimately it will answer the following question for you – How useful or valuable is your LinkedIn network? Let’s probe further regarding your LinkedIn Networking Strategy. Have you actually decided how you will go about networking on LinkedIn or is it something you do without much consideration? Do you have an aggressive approach to networking where you will connect with just about anyone who invites you to connect on LinkedIn? Or perhaps you favour a conservative approach where you only connect with people you actually know? Some might go with a mix of the two, a moderate approach or a hybrid strategy.
AGGRESSIVE, CONSERVATIVE OR MODERATE – In an aggressive approach to networking means that you are quite open to connecting with everyone so basically this means the focus is on quantity versus quality. The conservative approach to networking on LinkedIn means every new connection is carefully considered and should meet certain criteria. For example you might decide that you will only connect with someone who you have previously interacted with or some who is in a specific field. A moderate approach lies somewhere in between an aggressive approach the conservative approach. Every type of networking strategy has its Pros and Cons. An aggressive approach could be too broad and a conservative too limiting in the kind of information you share in your network.
QUALITY OR QUANTITY – You will need to decide whether you go for quantity or quality in your networking strategy. Some might argue that one can go for both but I would argue otherwise. I will always recommend that you go with quality in building your network. This will be shown to be important later on when you are looking at the usefulness of information shared in your network, the type of communication you share and when you are looking for particular people. A smaller network increases the likelihood that you have a better knowledge of people in your network. However, the bigger your network is the larger your reach will be. A smaller network can be very limiting as the people you seek to connect with might fall outside the 3rd degree. It may take you time to build a network but this is a worthwhile investment.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? – Whatever LinkedIn networking strategy you take you will need to stick to it to see how effective it is. You will have to tie your LinkedIn Networking Strategy to specific business goals or activity. Then you can review it and see if any changes need to be made to it. Over the period of time, you will see what networking strategy or approach is the best for you. So while your focus might be on quality you will still find it very useful to be connected to people with very big networks.
KNOW THE PEOPLE – Whatever LinkedIn Strategy you take to networking you must try and make it a point to get to know the people in your network. This is KEY. This will ensure that you are able to build relationships as you network which may prove invaluable going forward. Connecting with someone on LinkedIn is only the beginning. The work really starts after you have connected with someone but this is really the case with all relationships. We need to work on them. What value are you going to add to that person to their career or business or it will be one of those connections that you never talk to. If you have taken all the trouble to connect with someone on LinkedIn then you might as well explore how the relationship will work for both of you in a mutually beneficial way.