If you've ever wondered about how to network better on social media, you'd be delighted to know that in 2020, Hootsuite reported that over 30 million companies were on the LinkedIn platform.
That signals a tremendous opportunity for networking, but it can seem overwhelming to a newcomer, especially if networking and self-promotion is something that feels foreign to you.
Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone, provides some lessons that can be applied to your activities on LinkedIn to make your experience as productive as possible and help you to start building lasting, meaningful connections.
Keith has an elegant way of describing the value of sharing:
...the currency of networking is not greed but generosity. Hoarding knowledge is detrimental to networking.
Like moths to a flame, information attracts people.
More content is being shared on LinkedIn (and all other social media platforms) than ever before.
Use that to your advantage.
You might think you have nothing to share, but you do not have to be a multi-million dollar corporation with expert writers to share value.
Think about a time you faced a challenge and overcame it.
Sharing events, exploits and adventures like this can be valuable.
You do not have to have years and years of experience or be the market leader in your industry to share ideas.
What you are doing today, right now, could be worth sharing.
What you share doesn't have to be exclusively business related and being approachable or relatable to others receiving what you share is one of the best ways to network.
Professionals share what can best be termed as “life lessons” as well.
Just publishing content is not enough to expand your network.
The old “if a tree falls in a forest…” saying comes to mind.
If you are sharing value, but nobody is around to hear it, nothing happens.
Frequently people join LinkedIn and then just sit back waiting for all the connections to come to them.
Maybe now and then they will connect with an old friend or colleague that shows up when they log in as a “recommended connection”.
Outside of that they put in no effort into building their audience.
Instead, make a purposeful decision to connect with people in your industry.
Pick a number and commit to reaching out to that many people each day.
Just 2-3 each day is enough to get you started.
Remember, the worst thing that can happen is they ignore your connection request.
The comfortable thing is to stick with people we know, however, Keith Ferrazzi defines the purpose and pleasure of using your networking skills with this wisdom:
Sticking to the people we already know is a tempting behavior. But unlike some forms of dating, a networker isn’t looking to achieve only a single successful union. Creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships requires one to be out there, in the mix, all the time.
Obviously connect with people you know too, but stretch and reach beyond that.
A great way of generating inbound connections is to engage with posts you find.
Just leaving a, “Great post!” type of comment doesn’t count.
Spend some time crafting a meaningful reply as to why you found the post useful or why it resonated with you.
If all you care about is serving yourself, people will see through it pretty quickly.
Keith puts it best:
When you don’t have others’ interests at heart, people will find out sooner rather than later.
When people sense that you have nothing of value to offer and are simply just latching on to them hoping for a boost from riding their coattails, they will drop you fast.
Nothing is more annoying than those people who connect with you and immediately dive straight into a sales pitch.
Even if you are hoping to work or partner with them in the future, leaping straight into a proposal is more likely to get you blocked than welcomed.
Keith shares a formula you can consider using, designed to transform cold pitches into warm pitches:
In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi shares a million dollar secret:
I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful.
When you see opportunities or information that could help someone in your network, share it with them.
For successful and effective networking on LinkedIn, you have to genuinely care about others.
If you are just in it for yourself, people will see through that and networking will not come naturally.
Always be thinking about how you can grow with those around you.
After all, your network is your net worth and credit to the person who said it first as it is profoundly true!