Last week’s blog post focused on offline networking mistakes and fixes. This week, after reading CFO Search expert Samuel Dergel’s two blog posts on Linked In, I decided to chime in with my thoughts on building those online networks.
Samuel’s Linked In policy is a great template for creating your own policy. And like him, I recommend you have a policy or at least some minimal guidelines in place.
There are two schools of thoughts in building Linked In networks. One is “quantity.” The other is “quality.”
This philosophy or mindset comes from the perspective that you don’t know who might be in a position to help you, so connect with everyone. It’s one that is often embraced by recruiters and sales people. Other than consulting or CFO contractors, I don’t know many CFOs who embrace the quality viewpoint.
There is nothing wrong with this perspective, but for CFOs (and other executives) it can have a downside. That is, it can negatively impact your brand. For someone who is looking at you beyond just your profile, who comprises your network might impact that first impression.
If you’ve been embracing the “quantity” strategy up to this point, it might be a good idea to take a step back and ask yourself, “who is in my network, and should they be?” And yes, there is a delete button for those that shouldn’t be.
One of my clients, a very savvy networker, has a policy that he never accepts a connection unless and until he has had a phone call and/or a face-to-face meeting with the person. As a savvy networker, he believes that the benefit of a strong network is relationship, not rolodex. Therefore, quality, not quantity.
His philosophy is reminiscent of the concepts of the great Harvey McKay in his book, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty” …
“You’ve got to dig thoughtfully, creatively, and with a little class. That’s how the network gets bigger and the well gets deeper. Then there’s the maintenance. Nothing a man or woman ever built stayed in perfect shape without a lot of TLC. Ditto your network. Staying in touch with contact is as important as getting them in the first place.”
There is no wrong Linked In connection philosophy … only the one that is right for you.
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