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The Alternative Board Blog

Beyond Headcount: The Value of Your Network Is No Numbers Game

Jun. 28, 2024 | Posted by The Alternative Board

We have all seen those individuals on LinkedIn who have amassed 5000+ connections, and their actual number of connections may be exponentially more. You might even be one of those people. And there is nothing wrong with that. A lot of us have large online networks. But an impressive headcount isn’t necessarily all it's cracked up to be, as the real power of your LinkedIn network lies in the quality, not quantity, of your connections.

The true purpose of building a network is to promote engaging and mutually beneficial relationships. So ask yourself, how many of your connections would you know if you were you to bump into them on the street or at a business event? How many have you messaged without including some sort of sales pitch? How many LinkedIn posts by your connections have you commented on with sincere and thoughtful insights? If you answered “none” to all these questions, then those impressive connection totals are really more representative of a large number of unrealized opportunities than anything else.

The Importance of a Strong Professional Network

Think beyond the sales pitch. While there is always an implied foundation, expectation or hope for quid pro quo engagement, thinking of every connection as a potential sales lead is just a mistake. So look beyond the prospect perspective. A strong professional network can provide business owners and professionals access to impactful resources including industry insight, expert advice, emotional support and invaluable feedback. Quality connections offer you diverse perspectives and help expand your understanding of industry trends and how to overcome obstacles.

Why not challenge yourself to expand the quality of your network rather than hyper-fixating on headcount?

Advanced Tips to Improve the Value of Your Network

Nobody is telling you to stop adding new connections on LinkedIn. But by enhancing the quality of and engagement with your current network, you can begin to really leverage the potential relationships you already have. You might eventually want to create advanced collaborative opportunities or maybe even cohost events with key network connections. But for now, let’s talk about the basics on how to engage with your network in a more meaningful way.

1. Create Pertinent Content

Share your insight via posts and articles that you believe are relevant and provide high value to your network. Whether you post your own articles on LinkedIn or share something that you have read elsewhere, add your perspective and request others’ viewpoints on the topic. Engagement like this not only shows you value your connections’ expertise, it may also boost the reach of your posts.

2. Be Authentic

When posting or commenting on others’ posts, stay away from industry jargon or pat responses. Write like you would speak if you were discussing the topic in person. When appropriate, validate what your connections have to say. By communicating in a personal manner, you demonstrate to your connections that you hear and value their perspectives.

3. Engage Regularly

Many of us don’t have the time to post or comment on LinkedIn every day, but almost everyone can carve out five or ten minutes a week to check in on their network. Try to maintain some consistency in posting and/or commenting as it demonstrates interest, engagement and reminds your network of your presence and expertise.

4. Personalize Your Messaging

When you request or receive a new connection, try not to fall back on standardized messages like “I saw your profile and thought we should connect” or “I can help you grow your business with my services” or the very minimalistic “Let’s connect.” Instead, take just a minute to view the person’s profile or website, then enhance your message with something you noticed or a common interest you might share.

5. Be Supportive

If you find your connections’ content interesting and relevant, click that share button so others in your network can see it too. By actively promoting posts, articles and achievements of your network connections, you both strengthen your relationships and, in turn, encourage mutual support.

Remember, relationships are the key drivers of business success. So as you work to grow your network, make sure you put as much focus on the quality of those connections as you do on the quantity.

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Written by The Alternative Board

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