Linkedin and open networking

I have recently joined Linkedin and in a few days my list of contacts has grown to more than 300+ connections. How? Open networking.

What is LION and open networking?

Well, first of all, LION stands for Linked In Open Networking, and second of all – although I should have started with this first – Linked In is the business social network available at linkedin.com.

Open Networkers are people who are open to make contact with anyone, accepting new connections from people they do not know. It’s fair to say most people on linked in are not Open Networkers, but the ones who are, they are very approachable and friendly. Some are there to sell some services, products, but most are there to develop connections because you never know when opportunities arise from your network. I suspect some are there just to “score” – meaning they collect connections as you collect points when playing Angry Birds.

One important question arises though. Are these people you meet real connections and are you really networking? It is fair to say these people will probably not remember your name. Does having 5000+ connections means you know everyone? Sometimes it might mean that you don’t know anyone, really. And that leads to the next point…

Most people you connect with will not help or add any value to you or your business. But if you ever played the dating game, you know you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince/princess. And so is in business. Not everyone will help, but that’s not the point. The point is some people will open doors to other connections that might help. In business, opportunities come sometimes from the most unexpected situations or connections. So being open certainly helps.

Imagine a situation where you have a problem that can be helped by a certain type of people – say you want to sell software to small businesses. You can use your linked in contacts to filter out those people that have connections to small businesses, either because they own themselves a small business or because they sell/advise/work with small businesses. Then you can right a personalized letter to all of these contacts. They might read it, they might not, but it’s a start and because you’re connected, you’re not spamming, and because they’re mostly open networkers you’re connected to, they’re generally more open to new opportunities/contacts.

So think about it and take the challenge on – start connecting with Open Networkers on linked in. You’ll identify them easily as they will tag LION or Open Networker on their profiles. This approach is not for everyone though, so think about the pros and cons and whether this is something that is suited to your personality and your way of doing things.

And while you’re at it, you can also join my newly created group CRM systems and tools, intended to discuss all things CRM or contact management related.

Have fun networking!