I have taken both the quality and quantity approaches to networking. Fellow-networkers who lean toward the quantity approach tend to reply positively to quantity-based networking requests. For example if I “discovered” someone who had a large number of connections and is not connected to me and we also do not have many people common in our networks, I write to them saying something to the effect of “I have a network, you have a network, lets connect and share”.

And this request is not sent on the spur of the moment – I tend to take a good look at their profile and find out whether they would be open to such a request. I “never” use the boiler-plate template.

I have had two “success” stories on LinkedIn [the two which are the most evident and which would probably be regarded as “success” – that can be a subject for discussion on another forum!] One was when I had just joined LinkedIn – I had no idea how to approach the “networking”, who to write to and what to write to them. Overriding thought was “Who’d want to connect with me!?” I was just starting out in the innovation arena so naturally I wanted to connect with experts in that area. That’s how I got in touch with Joyce Wycoff of InnovationNetwork [ www.thinksmart.com ] and we eventually worked together for a year where I assisted her with the design and innovation marketing needs of the InnovationNetwork website. So yes, I got paid, I got international exposure and I got to hone my innovation skills learning from some of the best people in the field.

The second is the most recent: David Wittenberg [ Director, Innovation WorkGroup of Optimus Solutions www.optimusltd.com ] was looking to tap the Indian market for clients who might have innovation requirements. He is the alumni of Garvin School of Management [ Thunderbird ] and I had been a judge on the 2004 Innovation Challenge and had exchanged a couple of e-mails with Anil Rathi [ www.ideacrossing.com ] who was the organizer of the competition. Anil knew David and suggested my name and told him that I was on LinkedIn too. David visited my profile, checked out my blogs/website [ using links on my profile ] and promptly called me up. I am now the Director, Indian Operations for Optimus Solutions, USA for the Innovation, Marketing and Lead Generation WorkGroups. I connected with David on LinkedIn too – after I got the job.

The above were completely “quality” links but I probably would never have come across them if I did not have quantity connections because these people were connected to someone in my “quantity” list and the people in the “quantity” list are the ones who forwarded my requests.
I have also had a handful of enquiries regarding my design services [ www.aside.in ] and one even for transcription services – but none of them have developed into anything – they’ve stayed at the enquiry level and “might” turn into an engagement later on.

So yes, I made some money.
How much: Hard to quantify because there are so many indirect benefits apart from the “monetary” ones.
Networking Philosophy: I try to customize each and every request that I send.
Initially, when I started out networking, I would have connected with anyone who sent a reasonable, decent and well-worded request. Now I take my time and prefer to exchange at least a couple of e-mails before connecting networks.

Some of the criteria I use are: how many connections does the person have and who are the common people connecting us. For example if there are too many common people – it’s best to connect directly. Is the person also a member of the LinkedIn YahooGroups? [if he/she is, they probably know who they are connecting with and would remember me better [ some people remember me best as the 25 year old “hard-hat” wearing designer from India – check my website main-page top-left photograph www.aside.in ] I do not connect with people who don’t check their spellings – especially the ones that misspell my name. Rest of it is just “thin-slicing”.

I want to be “found” on LinkedIn when someone searches for “graphic design India” or “innovation India” and I want to give them the freedom to get in touch with me whichever way it suits them – not necessarily via InMail [why will a client pay to get in touch with a service provider?] There is no way that I can do a targeted search for companies/people who might need my services. But I don’t think that ever was LinkedIn’s purpose. [That’s why I tend to wax eloquent about how openBC has given me more than six “success”-stories. – It just suits my business better.] My way of going around that issue on LinkedIn is to be connected to everyone – quite literally so – so I want to connect with as many people as possible.

For me, networking is about increasing visibility. Period.

Quality approach [ customized request/e-mail, some knowledge about the person you are writing to, clarity of intent ] always work best. If I wanted to connect with someone because they have a lot of connections AND I told them that’s the reason I want to connect with them – I have had a 20% success rate with that. I did an experiment sometime back [ detailed blog post here: http://biznetworking.blogspot.com/2005/07/being-diplomatic.html ] 80% of the people did not like the “intent” of connecting only because of the numbers. These were people who have made their e-mails id’s freely available on LinkedIn and mentioned on their profile that they are accepting connection requests.

Again, for me, having my e-mail id on my profile or my name on the InMail search results only serves my purpose of being found. Doesn’t mean I will necessarily connect with anyone who sends me a connection invitation.

Subscribe

Subscribe to the Naina.co newsletter

By checking this box, you confirm that you have read and are agreeing to our terms of use regarding the storage of the data submitted through this form.