The LinkedIn Networking Secret No One Ever Tells YouApr 20, 2021
Have you ever tried to plant a garden? I love a house plant as much as anyone, but you probably won’t find me planting anything outside beyond a few flowers from time to time. I tend to stick to indoor plants—mostly because they’re predictable and easy to manage.
The other day, I noticed one of my succulents had begun to overflow from its container. I realized I couldn’t keep it inside any longer. In order for it to thrive, it needed to be planted outside in a garden where it could grow even stronger and healthier.
Building your network is a lot like this house plant. At a certain point, you have to think bigger and commit to the disciplined, intentional kind of growth that really pays off in the end. But what does that look like? How can you grow your network in a way that meaningfully impacts your business and helps you reach your next goal?
Well, I want to let you in on a little secret. As powerful and effective as it is,
LinkedIn cannot be the only way you grow your network.
Of course, it is an important tool for nurturing your network, but even as a LinkedIn expert, I’ll admit it isn’t everything.
At some point, your network requires some offline TLC to grow and thrive to its fullest potential. It’s not enough to perfect your profile and assume the rest will take care of itself. In the same way that my succulent was restricted by its little clay pot, your networking efforts will be limited if you don’t put in the hard work to grow it, even outside of LinkedIn. So, I want to share with you a few of my tips for nurturing your network, both on LinkedIn and beyond.
1. Be intentional.
Sure it may feel good to accept every new connection request you receive, but if you don’t set a clear intention about who is in your LinkedIn network, it will quickly lose its effectiveness. No more than 15 percent of your LinkedIn connections should be people you don’t know. So, rather than trying to grow your network all at once, choose your top 20 targets and focus your efforts there. LinkedIn is a great place to zero in on your “who,” but don’t forget the power of a good old-fashioned phone call, too.
2. Be resourceful.
As a business owner, I’ve learned that people don’t know how to help you unless you tell them. For example, this could mean defining your ideal client to a LinkedIn connection who might know someone you need to meet or asking a client for a referral.
If you’re producing authored content (and you should), extend its life by making sure what you say is accessible across numerous channels—on LinkedIn, and elsewhere. Use what you have today to begin planting seeds of relationships for the future.
3. Be personal.
No one likes to feel like a prospect or a number. Instead of trying to shortcut relationships, demonstrate to your network you really care. Showing up in LinkedIn comments is one simple way to do that. A quick note of encouragement or congratulations can go a long way toward building rapport. Even better, take the conversation off of LinkedIn. Pick up the phone and make a call. Send a friendly note. Meet up for coffee. These personal touches can add up and create an outsized impact on your business.
4. Be patient.
Just as a garden doesn’t grow overnight, building your network can be a slow and steady process. Don’t be discouraged when the fruits of your labor take time. In the meantime, keep staying in front of your clients and prospective clients and centers of influence, whether that means using a CRM to make sure your message is showing up in inboxes, or investing time into networking groups that make sense for your business. I promise, with a little patience, you’ll reap a beautiful harvest.
I want you to know that I’m cheering you on. Growing your network intentionally is not for the faint of heart, but in the end, it’s always worth it. After all, we are in the business of building relationships, aren’t we?
Now I want you to ask yourself, whether it’s on LinkedIn or out in the wild, how will you nurture your network this week?
Need a little nudge to get started? Download this free guide to get you into action: 9 Weekly Habits of a LinkedIn MVP.