LinkedIn networking expert Steven Burda talks about the right and wrong things people and companies do when trying to build a network on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn networking expert Steven Burda
Jim Neister: Hi Steven. A lot of people think that it will take a lot of time and energy to build up a decent network on LinkedIn. What are your thoughts on this perception?
Steven Burda: They’re 100% correct. The reality is, is that it takes one person at a time to build a good network, and even though I am the most connected person on LinkedIn, I still believe that quality of your connections is more important than quantity.
Some people might think, “That is a pretty critical statement being the most connected person”, but it’s very true. So it is a time intensive, time consuming effort to build your network, to cultivate your network and to develop your network.
Jim Neister: That’s really interesting. Is it really possible for a person or company who just joined LinkedIn to build a sizable network?
Steven Burda: Absolutely. Anytime you join and start networking, whether it’s online, offline…whether it’s through various groups online and offline; you can build a sizeable network. There’s no magic formula and there’s no magic number that says you have to achieve “X” number of connections to build a sizable network.
Some of the best networkers that I know don’t have thousands or hundreds of thousands of connections. They have a couple of hundred connections, but they are of good quality connections. Those individuals, those groups, those organizations who are thinking about joining LinkedIn, and thinking, “Hey, am I too late?” The answer is “No”; it’s never too late, it’s never too early to join LinkedIn and start building up your network.
Jim Neister: How can someone who has limited time to invest still be able to connect with potential prospects? What are some of the tricks of the trade?
Steven Burda: Right. It’s a very interesting question because it takes time. When people say, “I don’t have time to exercise” or “I don’t have time to eat healthy”; same goes for here…people have to find time. And then time, whether it’s 5 minutes a day, whether it’s 20 minutes a day, whether it’s an hour a day would dictate how much you can allocate, eventually, to build up a good, meaningful, sizable network.
So I would say to start out, spend a couple of minutes, doesn’t have to be hours, 1o 15 minutes a day, browse around, take a look at various groups, different interest groups that are there and make connections. So, with that said, connect originally with people you already know and trust, and then ask for introductions of their friends to make introductions to their friends. Starts slowly…don’t rush, and the fruits of your labor will pay off.
Jim Neister: What kind of technical skills does someone need to do this?
Steven Burda: You need a computer. If you know how to use a computer, you can do it. Now days teenagers are using the computers, my kids are using the computers, but anyone who is a professional can sign up, login to LinkedIn, follow the Terms and Conditions; you can use it.
It’s very user friendly…the platform itself is designed for a regular “Joe”; you don’t have to be tech savvy to use it, and just try it out. Many of the things you will see are simply a process of learning.
Jim Neister: You mentioned Terms of Service…that brings up a really interesting point because some people go in with the mind set of connecting with everyone as fast as possible, but it may actually hurt their efforts in the long run. What are some detrimental activities you would warn people not to do LinkedIn, and how can they affect the quality of their connections?
Steven Burda: Never spam. Never think with the mentality, “Wow, I have a product or service to sell, therefore, I’m going to go on LinkedIn and sell it to everyone.” You can do this. This is not a mass marketing campaign that you’re launching; you’re really building a network.
Cultivate your network, and build a relationship before you get to a point…so, one of the Terms of Service here; make sure and be careful of who you are inviting to your network. For privacy reasons and for safety reasons, and also don’t be a nuisance, don’t be a bother to other individuals, other professionals who are on LinkedIn, and are there for the purpose of networking, and not necessarily getting bombarded with the stuff that you want to sell them.
Jim Neister: Can you give an example of how people can engage prospects and still be within the LinkedIn TOS?
Steven Burda: Absolutely. So, let’s say you are in an industry for finance professionals or accounting professionals. The first thing is to try to make connections offline. So if you attend any seminars, speaking engagements, any workshops, approach individuals, introduce yourself, and after the handshake, ask them if they are on LinkedIn, and if it’s okay to connect with them, because this way, you already know that those individuals gave you permission to make that connection.
Being a social Media guru, having the background MBA, many business people welcome connections, but not everyone is like that. So, if you’re a physician, you might be only limiting yourself to a certain group or a certain sector in a certain industry that you might not want everyone to be a part of this exclusive network.
Jim Neister: Great advice. What are some other tactics that are supposed to be successful about how to succeed on LinkedIn, but can actually hurt your chances of success?
Steven Burda: One of the things that people misunderstand is that LinkedIn is a platform. What you and other connections make out of it, is up to you. So LinkedIn is not a magic genie that connects people and finds you jobs or finds you candidates for positions you are looking for, but actually builds your connections.