As home based business owners wanting to build a network, we have to be creative. We usually don’t spend what big companies spend on attendance at those networking standards – conferences. seminars, power breakfasts (horrible invention, but that’s another post), expense account lunches.
There are some interesting options online, one of them being LinkedIn, which is a way of getting connected through people you know and trust – and vice versa.
In a post here just over a month ago I mentioned that I had taken some action to see how I could build my network through LinkedIn. I said I would ‘see how it goes’. Back then, my immediate connections had gone from 3 to 27 and that connected me at one remove to some 1,400 people. That was on Feb 24.
Now, April 2, I have 56 immediate connections, who connect me at one remove to around 3,500.
LinkedIn has over 2 million members who would describe themselves as ‘professionals’ across a range of industries and countries – mostly, I suspect, in North America.
But what I find quite extraordinary is that LinkedIn tells me that three more lots of connections away, what they call ‘four degrees’ (as in ‘six degrees of separation’ I guess), there are hundreds of thousands of people that I can contact through referrals and another smaller group (not that small really at 40,000+) with whom I can connect directly without a referral.
Now, I realise that somewhere in the links there may be someone who will choose not to pass on a request for a connection, or someone who may choose not to connect with me in spite of a referral. But even if I focused on the 3,500 people I am connected with at only one remove by people with whom I share trust and respect, there will surely be people I can effectively connect with for business.
And I can help my friends and colleagues. For example, one of my immediate connections has asked for help in contacting professionals in a specific industry, in Australia and Europe: there are others in my immediate connection group who can help with that, so it’s just a matter of a couple of emails for me to connect these people. And during the week I was able to point out to two people in my ‘first degree’ group that they live in the same city on the other side of the world and may be able to help one another. Talk about a warm inner glow when you can do something like that!
There is quite a neat tour of LinkedIn, showing how it works.
I suspect LinkedIn won’t suit everyone, but if you are wanting to extend your professional reach, I suggest it’s worth checking out.
And by the way, so far I’ve mostly, about 97%, sent invitations to people who were already in LinkedIn. Once I start inviting other connections, it will all grow further. Exciting!