LinkedIn Brief #1: How Many LinkedIn Connections Do You Need to Move the Ball?

LinkedIn Brief1 How Many LinkedIn Connections Do You Need to Move the Ball?The ultimate answer to this question will depend on the kind of business you are in, your personal style and the expectations of the most important business people in your life.

Here are some questions to help you get to the answer:

  • Are you in a transaction-oriented business in which product and speed are most important? (need to be in the right place at the right time)
  • Or, does your business involve long sales cycles and highly customized products or services? In other words, is yours a relationship business?

Although this is a general rule, people in the first group often benefit from larger networks because opportunities are less differentiated and are more, well, opportunistic. People in the second situation may tend to have smaller networks because they have to spend more time on each connection to make it valuable.

Now think of your best clients. What are their expectations of you? Do they need hand-holding and a lot of attention? Or are they free-flowing, doing deals with people they may not know well when terms are right? To succeed, you need to give people the kind of attention they need to want to do business with you.  When you build your LinkedIn network with purpose, and it will serve you better.

About Briefs

LinkedIn Briefs is a new series of quick advice by Executive’s Guide to LinkedIn Blog to help people become more aware of LinkedIn’s potential to change businesses and careers. I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas for future briefs in comments below.

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Learning More

I lead periodic seminars globally, where participants master these issues and many others. The next one is Chicago’s Social Networking Bootcamp, featuring LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging on August 19-21.

2 comments to LinkedIn Brief1 How Many LinkedIn Connections Do You Need to Move the Ball?

  • Chris
    Two observations:
    — Most of my current “face-to-face” consulting clients are not active on business social media, so I have to market to them the old-fashioned way. I’m using LinkedIn, blogs, etc. to reach beyond this group to others who are engaged online. But it’s almost like having two different businesses.
    — My target clients fall between your two categories. I want to draw them in with transactions, including free, then entice them to sign up for longer (remote) interactions with me, either 1 on 1 or via workshops.


    • Mike, thanks for your insights and, as you know, you are not alone. Adoption of social networking is very uneven. You are thinking the right way by recognizing that you have “two separate businesses.” If you can see a connection between Web 1.0 adoption (“the Internet”) and Web 2.0, you probably believe that everyone will have to conduct online networking in the years ahead, as most businesses now need websites to be taken seriously. If this is true, even if 15% of your clients and prospects are reachable via social networking in 2009, you can drive down the cost and increase quality by interacting with them using social networks this year. Next year, a larger portion of your clients will be reachable. Competitors that don’t see this will be caught flat-footed at a certain point, where you will be fluent and more competitive. Another thing that will hurt businesses: Web 2.0 is very different from Web 1.0 because it’s about relationships, not only information and transactionability on demand. With Web 1.0, you could wait and throw money at a website later because it was a tech thing, somebody could build it for you. Web 2.0 requires mentoring and far more awareness of how to develop trust, how to conduct yourself in these new spaces (social networks). How to develop community and motivate people to interact? Firms will have a much harder time because these things are social, you can’t buy them as easily. Lastly, one thing people assume that is *not* true: social networks don’t mean that you will do less face-to-face networking. You will increase the quality and focus of your face to face time because pre-qualification will be better, and the info bytes part of meetings will be taken care of beforehand. Thanks again for sharing!

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