There’s been a controversy going on within the LinkedIN crowd for years.
Is it more effective for your job search to build a LinkedIN network of close personal connections? Or instead, build a network with a broad reach, but weak connections?
It depends on your purpose, and networking style. If you’re reading this blog, chances are your purpose is to change careers or jobs. Also think about how your network can be beneficial AFTER you land your new job.
So let’s consider your networking style…
1) A broad networker who tries to know everyone
2) A networker who cultivates close ties and strong relationships
Most of us do a little of both in real life, and our close network is a subset of our broader network. Your LinkedIN strategy will likely parallel how you network in real life. In face to face networks, most forge strong relationships with ten close friends, plus maintain a looser network of hundreds or thousands, including people met briefly at networking events and trade shows.
Tight Network: The advantage of a tight network is your network will go the extra yard for you. These are people who are your close friends and business associates, and are likely to go to greater lengths to help you. Your tight network will introduce you to just about anyone, because they know you value THEIR reputation.
The disadvantage is a lack of critical mass. Ten or even a hundred friends do not take you very far with LinkedIN. Not only is your ability to search limited to your own network, but your ability to be found is limited also.
Broad Network: The advantage of a broad network is sheer volume. Since LinkedIN allows you 3 levels of connections, a large network multiplies exponentially into a MASSIVE network at its third level. A massive network is great for broadcasting messages, searching for employers, and searching for talent. A massive network allows you greater chances of being included in other users’ searches for your specific subject matter expertise. And finally, having a massive network gives you a better chance of finding people within your target companies or within companies who are advertising for positions.
The biggest disadvantage of a broad network is spam, but it’s avoidable. First, be careful how you invite others, so you don’t send templates that sound "spammy" – LinkedIN takes a poor view of spammers. To avoid receiving spam, set up a separate email address for LinkedIN, and set your spam controls tightly to block messages from Nigerian Lawyers who want you to cash their $20 million checks. For instance, my LinkedIN email is email@example.com (please spare me all the notifications of winning the European lottery).
Mixed Approach: Here’s what I do – a little of both. I keep a close network on my personal database (Outlook, Act, etc.), and keep a broad network on LinkedIN. I’m able to update the status line of my LinkedIN profile to let my broad network of over 8 million contacts see that I’ve posted new daily job tips. In addition, I can better serve my job changing clients by keeping a massive network of business professionals to refer to.
Please comment….I’d enjoy a discussion of what the readers have to say about what LinkedIN strategies have worked.
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