A month ago I had a great conversation with Jeff Yang, a LinkedIn expert and he taught me some very simple techniques to expand my LinkedIn network. Many of the people reading this will be doing so as a result of his advice.

LinkedIn Success

I have had immediate success in expanding my network as a result of working on it one hour a day. Success, however, is an ambiguous term. Is success measured in the number of contacts, the type of contacts, the potential of them to spend money with me, or the potential for them to expand my business for me?

LinkedIn

So what’s been my success with LinkedIn?

1.There has been the obvious increase in number of links. But it’s very easy to achieve that and I don’t think it should be used as a measure of success.

2. The type of people I have been connecting with our absolutely amazing. They include people that are normally too busy or guarded by overzealous receptionists and would be impossible to talk to normally.

3. They have been open to conversations. I’ve been able to ask questions and get advice.

4. I have even been able to introduce people to help solve their needs. Someone I connected with last week mentioned how they are trying to expand into an area where I know someone who has helped me over the years. Hopefully they can help each other.

What should not be measured as success with LinkedIn

In my list above I have not mentioned making more money, or making more sales. LinkedIn is about networking and keeping in contact.

The key to LinkedIn

Jeff was keen to stress that LinkedIn is more about giving than taking. A successful LinkedIn network is made by contributing to the lives and knowledge of other people.

Part of my reason for writing this article is to share this advice. In fact if you take this one piece of advice to heart it will make LinkedIn worthwhile for others and ultimately for yourself.

What can LinkedIn achieve?

My LinkedIn campaign over the last month has been very targeted- I wanted to connect with more people in the food and hospitality industry. While I already had a number of contacts in the industry what I quickly discovered was that they had thousands of contacts in the industry and you can approach all of them.

Forget about the 7 degrees of separation. Chances are there are people who can change your life that know someone in your immediate LinkedIn network and you can connect with. And as you connect with more people they move from that second degree of separation into your immediate contacts and then you have access to their contacts.

It’s not about spamming connects!!!

At this stage let me stress that you can’t just madly connect with everyone you see. Jeff’s advice was to send a personalised request to each person. He had great advice as to what it should contain and if you want more for advice please contact him or myself.

Everyone should be expanding their LinkedIn network right now

I know someone who is currently looking for work. LinkedIn can easily get him in contact with the people he needs to be talking to. Not HR person or a recruiting agency, but the manager or business owner who is currently thinking that they need to employ someone. So many jobs are filled without being advertised.

But the best time for him to build his network was while he had a job. The second best time is right now.

Even if you are sitting comfortably in a job, are you trying to build your reputation? LinkedIn.

Can you benefit from the knowledge of other people in the same role or industry? LinkedIn.

But better still can you benefit from the knowledge of other people who may be higher in the corporate ladder, further along the supply chain, associated with the industry, regulating the industry, or totally outside? LinkedIn can easily get you there.

LinkedIn is not Facebook

Just one last comment before I finish – LinkedIn is not Facebook. This is some important implications:

– most people don’t regularly check LinkedIn. This means that something you share will probably not be seen by most people. It means that there can be a delay of days or weeks or months between trying to connect with someone or sending them a question and getting a response.

– Facebook is flooded with the trivial such as what I ate for breakfast, where is LinkedIn is intended for the useful.

Is a LinkedIn network worthwhile?

I haven’t actually answered the question-is a LinkedIn network worthwhile?

Absolutely.