Why Your Social Network Has Value
Recently, I read a blog post with a staggering statistic. Someone eliminated a huge percentage of his LinkedIn connections. I read that post and all my other emails and blogs that day, but I kept thinking back to that post in particular. I couldn’t understand why someone would delete so many professional connections. Had the person won the lottery? Had the person decided to move to the North Pole and no longer had any use for technology or social media? Since it takes time and effort to connect on LinkedIn, why go through all that effort only to delete so many connections?
As I thought about this topic more, I discussed it with several of my friends that I have met as a result of my social media activities, which include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and many other peripheral sites. I have also been an active blogger for four years and provide contributions to 9 other blogs. In addition, I have clients and advise them on their blog content. Above all, I’m grateful for all the connections that I’ve made over the years because many of them live in other countries far from California – and I would never have had the opportunity to meet them without social media.
Even though I may not have met most of my network in person, I have had some amazing experiences. As a result of one Tweet, I spoke with a CEO of a Fortune 500 company about employee engagement. As a result of one Tweet, I was invited to write a foreword for a best-selling book for job-seekers. As a result of a connection with a leadership expert, I was invited to appear on a national radio show to discuss the intersection of marketing and leadership, and I’ve been invited back to the show several times. As a result of my Twitter presence, I met the co-founder of a unique website that customizes the Twitter experience for better SEO performance, and based on my enthusiasm, worked in a consulting capacity to create an advisory board. As a result of my Twitter and entire social media presence, I was recognized as one of the “Top 100 Branding Experts” to follow on Twitter.
Thanks to social media, I have been honored to connect with Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar), who is, without a doubt, one of the friendliest and most inspiring members of the Twitterverse. To quote Vala, “It’s not the paint, brush, or canvas that makes a great artist. Better connections lead to better experiences.”
I have also seen firsthand how effective LinkedIn can be. One of my clients received two job offers by participating in a couple of groups. Another connection received a job offer from another country – and he didn’t even apply – the company found him based on his specialty.
Based on my extensive network, I created a unique blog series last summer during the Olympics. I chose people who represented 10 countries and asked them to answer the same five questions. I shared the posts on my blog in the spirit of the Olympics. I could never have featured this fantastic series if I had required an in-person meeting first – that just wasn’t feasible.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not advocating that you link to anyone and everyone. If you send an invitation to connect, do so because you read someone’s blog, you have a mutual connection, or you’re both in the same group with a common interest. And always, always, always personalize your invitation. If someone sends a generic invitation to you, check them out before you say no. They may have hit the send button too soon by mistake. But if you don’t know anyone in common or the message is generic, you may not wish to connect.
But your existing network has value – and this brings me back to why the post I mentioned at the beginning still remains with me. The truth is, in today’s social era, it just isn’t feasible to delete connections. You never know when someone will refer someone else for a job, a partnership, a radio interview, etc.
As a result of my social networking and online blogging activities, I had the pleasure to meet a fellow brand marketer, David Schwartz (@Brand_Education). David is a digital brand strategist who creates content for brands that humanize their customer relationships and promote two-way conversations. We were discussing the importance of social networking, and David had this to say:
“It’s hard to explain the value and benefit of building an online network to a person who just doesn’t get it. The best I can do is explain that there are people who are just like you with similar interests and perspectives that can offer support, conversation, and yes, real friendship. For some, it doesn’t hit them until they finally meet an online contact in person or IRL (in real life). But with Skype and Google+ Hangouts, it’s as good as real for me when you can look someone in the eye and speak face-to-face. For those that aren’t willing to give it a try, it’s their loss and missed opportunity.”
And let’s not forget what Porter Gale (@portergale) said in an interview with Paul Dunay (@PaulDunay), “Networking is more and more important because the world is getting smaller and smaller.”
So what do you think? Do you watch your numbers like a hawk? Or, do you ignore your numbers despite how high they go, and instead, focus on adding people of value even if you haven’t shared a latte at Starbucks in person?
Image Credit: Sailom via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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