Networking reconsideredDo you still send Linkedin (or viadeo) invitations without personal message?

So you get it wrong!

Networking and social networking is all about quality and not quantity.

In their brilliant article, Networking Reconsidered, the authors go even further and explain that Networking is about genuine relationships where you exchange issues and real knowledge. And only time and trust will ensure this kind of relationship.

By building long term relationships and getting the trust of your contacts you will be able to develop collaborative work.

I know that I don’t share the philosophy of the LIONs (LInkedin Open Networkers) on linkedin but I don’t care.

There are 2 opposite networking strategies on the net:

1) You send connection requests without personal message to all the persons you are interested in and try to grow your network as fast as possible. You hand over your business card to as many people as you can during networking events and conferences and try to convert them into contacts. You ask people you don’t know some kind of help (as once Seth Godin once mentioned…he receives everyday emails from people asking for something).

The end result is a long trail of connections without a real commitment and real exchange. It is a mass connection competition.

And I don’t think it does work actually. I know some people who started as Lions and got back to the old status.

You don’t build genuine relationships that will give you both knowledge and trusted leads.

You can’t be recommended in that case. You barely met a small number of them. You accumulate and don’t follow up.

And as soon as you find a job (if you were looking for a job), you don’t maintain this network as obviously you don’t have anymore time to look after all these contacts. Your only goal was to find a job and generate business as soon as possible. No long term thinking at all!

2) You build your network organically with carefully crafted messages to potential connections, you use the network of your friends/contacts to gain new contacts asking for recommendations. You use twitter to poke people you could target and start commenting on their blogs. It is hard work and time consuming but it is the only way to get it!! You share and show that you are part of the game by participating.

You can rely on your network and have trusted relationships exchanging contacts/sales/tips and what the authors call tacit knowledge which is years of accumulated knowledge.

You can be a trust agent who grows a sustainable network which is strengthened over time and exchange, and even if you can’t meet with everybody online, you always try to send news/articles/messages.

To be a lot stereotypical, the networker of the 1st group is an extravert who does not listen and talk to everybody and the day after forgot who he talked to whereas the networker of the 2nd group is an introvert who listens and prepares his networking approach carefully (and I have nothing against the extraverts!!) and send an email the day after to thank the person for her time.

Everybody is looking for shortcuts to success and in the networking area, it is the same.

It is only time, hard work and smart ways of using technology that will allow you to develop an efficient network.

So yes quality over quantity! (and if you can have both, even better).

Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/laurentbrouat

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8 comments untill now

  1. I agree completely. We don’t have an infinite bucket of energy or an elastic reputation so we need to focus our offer and our effort. As I am sure you noted, the ROI of more and more followers is not necessarily greater as illustrated by S Godin. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/01/bullhorns-are-overrated.html

    Your post begs a question. If you have connected with Lions before having developed a clear picture of what you want linkedin to do for you, should one now “defriend” them like one can do in Bebo?

    Regards

    John

  2. Hi John, thanks for sharing this info, I am a big fan of Seth Godin. And to add sommethin on to your comment, Dunbar who is a British anthropoligist mentioned that we cannot maintain stable relationships with more than 150 people!! (I Have 300 contacts on Linkdein!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number
    Now yes we can delete connections on Linkedin and Viadeo and it is quite discreet (people won’t even notice it). The question is more, have you exchanged things with this person, exchanged contacts/info? If not, you know the answer :)
    Regards,
    Laurent

  3. Stephane Ramu @ 2010-02-02 12:06

    Excellent article. I agree. Quality is better than quantity. I had already seen the 150 people as a “natural” circle”. I believe that if you take a serious look at what others do half that figure is go enough.

    Regards

    Stephane

  4. Fully agree with you Laurent. I don’t actually see the benefit “Lions” have with their strategy. It is the best way to ruin their reputation and being seen as a stalker rather than a constructive professional. I will go as far as saying that they have everything to lose, anything to win.
    It would be interested though to have some feedback of “Lions” whether their strategy has worked for them in one way or the other, you never know.

  5. It would be interesting to have LIONS sharing their view on this post. It may work out but it depends really on your goal, but even that I think the most efficient way of having a good network is to give more importance to quality over quantity!

  6. Jon Husband @ 2010-02-03 19:17

    So yes quality over quantity! (and if you can have both, even better)

    Agreed. At some point in time, the job becomes managing both.

  7. Stephen Kramer @ 2010-02-03 22:39

    I fully agree with you all with a slight modification: I am not offended by receiving invitations without a message from business friends and colleagues with whom I am in regular contact. It generally makes sense to include them in my current network. I do not like to be asked for jobs by people I don’t know. Those invitations are immediately archived. If I have selected someone because he or she may be able to help me with a current problem, I always offer reciprocal assistance. There is no reason anyone should agree to put him or herself on the line for me if I am not in a position to help that person. Networking is useful, but as several of you have said, it is a job in itself.

  8. Hi Stephen, I agree with you that when the invitation comes from people we know, you don’t need necessarily a personal message!
    Here is an article very interesting: Best Connected Individuals Are Not the Most Influential Spreaders in Social Network,
    http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/24748/?a=f

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