Why having thousands of LinkedIn and Facebook connections isn't the same as having valuable contacts
How many contacts do you have right now on LinkedIn? How many friends on Facebook? Do you find yourself simply clicking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a contact request indiscriminately out of habit, while you’re not really sure how the person knows you? And how many of your contacts do you actually exchange valuable conversations with? Your aunt who you haven’t seen in 20 years? Friends from primary school who you no longer have much in common with? The pizza delivery guy or the person you met at a networking gig on Saturday?
Social media has made us more connected than ever before, yet we report feeling more disconnected than ever before.
We’re so caught up in ‘knowing’ as many people as possible, liking each other’s posts, #hashtagging and @mentioning what we did last night and with whom, that we’ve forgotten how to have deep and meaningful conversations with each other on topics such as how we can help each other in our careers. The question is:
- Who is really in your network?
- How much input or influence do they really have on what you’re doing or trying to achieve?
- How much do they truly know you and your goals?
- How much can they help you?
Here’s the bottom line. It’s about quality, not quantity. We don’t need more contacts, we don’t need more friends, and we don’t need to spend more time connecting online. If this was all we needed, then every one of us would be enjoying unparalleled success through the sheer number of opportunities we have to connect.
Don’t get me wrong – this old style of networking is still absolutely essential for business growth, and lead and sales generation. But the problem is that it does nothing to fuel our personal and professional growth.
Building a network that works engages your personal network on a deeper level, and matters more. It is about putting you right in the middle of a network that connects you to people and information that matters for your growth and personal success.
It’s about being small, strategic and smart. It’s about your personal network consisting of the following:
- a personal ‘board of advisers’ who bring out the best in you, holding you accountable for your actions and decisions
- a marketing machine that champions you and your cause, lighting up your personal fire of belief and self-confidence, pushing you to do more, be more, and take action on those goals and success dreams
- an intelligence bank that sustains you over the long term, expanding your knowledge and wisdom and pushing you to know more every day
So, while I’m not suggesting you should go away and cull everyone from your LinkedIn or Facebook network, you must take a long, hard look at the way you network now and the way you could network to get ahead.
- Who is in your network now and who should be?
- Do you have a personal marketing machine – people who believe in you, that want to see you succeed, and who promote you, your skills and capabilities whenever they can?
- Seek out your intelligence bank – those people who challenge your thinking, planning and direction and who add the skills and expertise you don’t have.
- And what about that all-important board of advisers? Individuals who would truly push you to achieve more, open doors for you, and who encourage you to be more in life and in your career?
For most of us, I can honestly say that it won’t be an aunt or the pizza delivery guy.
Janine Garner is the author of It’s Who You Know: How a Network of 12 Key People Can Fast-track Your Success (Wiley). She is a Fortune 500 mentor, a keynote speaker, a partner at Thought Leaders Global, and the founder and CEO of the LBDGroup. Find out more at www.janinegarner.com.au.