While it’s important to build a network of social media profiles to grow your visibility, deliver your message broadly and learn from your connections, mega-networks don’t necessarily  pay off  all by themselves. But here is how a large network can really be useful.

I have a couple of monster-networker friends on LinkedIn. I’ve tended to think of LIONs (people with thousands of connections of LinkedIn) as multi-level-marketing opportunists, so I avoided connecting with people who had a LION designation or had thousands of followers.

One day I answered a question on LinkedIn, and the person thanked me and asked me to join her network. She’s a mega LinkedIn Q&A person, but I could tell that she gave her answers some thought and really tried to be helpful. So I connected. Since then I’ve only gotten helpful posts from her and the occasional newsletter, but she’s never tried to sell me anything. I figured she’s a rare exception, and when I see something I think will be useful in her business, I send her a shout.

We live thousands of miles apart, and have never connected face to face, but have stayed in touch. When there is a LinkedIn event in my area, I often hear about it from her first. That’s how I met mega-networker #2. He was holding an event in San Francisco to meet some of his connections and she suggested I attend. I met some great people at this event, and learned a lot about how a real networker creates both a large network and strong relationships. I watched him make introductions, then encourage others to connect and talk among themselves. The event was not about him. It was about the network.

Your network is only a list of names, job descriptions and resumes. In order to make a large network useful, you have to go deeper than just making connections. You have to find out about people and connect to them on a deeper level. You need to find commonality and a way to be useful to each other. Traveling to a conference in a far away town? Take a look at your network and find out who lives there. Where should you eat? What should you do? Do they have time for coffee? Somebody in your network holding an event you wish you could attend? Who else in your network might like to know about it?

Of course it’s likely you’ll never meet many of the connections you make face to face unless you attend networking events. How else can you be helpful and a valuable addition to their network? Read their blogs and comment or share the link. Send them an email about something you think they might not know about. Really take the time to find out who they are and why you’re happy to know them. Once you understand what their needs are, start connecting people within your network to each other. You are only the center of your own network from your perspective. Everybody else see it from a different viewpoint.

There truly are people out there who understand the value of relationships and have large networks. So take a moment to think about your networks. Who is adding so much value you can’t help but want to share them with the rest of your connections?

What’s the lesson?

All mega networkers are not spammers. If all they talk about is their numbers feel free to ignore them. If they come back to you with answers to your questions, connect you with other users or information, treat them like gold!

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One comment on “Rules of Engagement

  • This has really helped me to understand a virtual friendship relationship. I am just starting my SM experience and you have given me a clear map to discovery.

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