4 Easy Ways to Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Network
We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and social media trends show that most people tend to agree. According to 2016 data, the average professional on LinkedIn has over 900 connections.
So if you fall within or above this average, you’re ahead of the curve, right? Well, it depends.
Consider Dunbar’s number which suggests that humans are capable of maintaining only 150 meaningful relationships. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar describes this set of 150 as “the people you have real reciprocated relationships with, those where you feel obligations and would willingly do favours.” Essentially, these people are more than acquaintances, they are truly invested in your success.
Now, while other studies have that number somewhere between 200-300, we are none-the-less presented with a networking conundrum – in order to earn a spot in someone’s “magic 150”, you must also give up someone from yours.
So, how can you grow a meaningful network and maintain your current strong relationships?
Follow these 4 easy networking tips to get the most out of your LinkedIn connections.
1. Focus on quality, not quantity
While having 500+ connections has the potential to look impressive, you must ask yourself if there is real substance behind that number.
Vet your current and new connection requests to ensure they can either speak to the skill set that you currently have, or can they provide opportunities to improve upon them.
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman said, ” You don’t need to do a deep analysis of every person who asks to connect with you, but if you’d feel awkward chatting with them or introducing them to someone in your network, decline — without a guilty conscience.”
2. Be supportive
LinkedIn connections are only truly valuable if they are mutually beneficial. You have probably heard the adage “you scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours”, but what happens if they don’t scratch first?
Be proactive! Endorse your connection’s skills, write recommendations, and engage with their posts. By doing so first, they will be much more inclined to return the favor.
3. Maintain relationships with acquaintances
Assuming the validity of anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s studies, we have the capability of maintaining only 500 relationships with acquaintances in addition to the 150 closer relationships.
In order to make the most out of these relationships, make note of their personal interests/goals and message them if you stumble across an article that they might enjoy or a job opportunity that they would excel in.
If all else fails, just send them a friendly message on occasion so that you remain a valuable acquaintance in their eyes.
4. Take it offline
If you see value in growing a relationship with certain connections, offer to meet them for coffee or lunch if they are in the area. An engaging, in-person conversation will allow you to quickly identify shared interests and foster the growth of this network relationship.