Over 500 million users can’t be wrong, but they can do things differently. Whether you are a veteran or a novice on LinkedIn, a networking strategy is beneficial. This article looks at the three major types of networkers on LinkedIn and what your options are. In case you want more information about LinkedIn, check out the posts on the basics and how to maximize your profile.
The three types of networkers on LinkedIn:
1. The roaring LIONs
LION stands for Linked In Open Networkers, or open networkers. These users are open and will accept any invitation. The idea here is to connect to as many people as possible to reach out to more people. A more extensive network is particularly useful when prospecting for leads and doing research on people and companies.
An open networker will publicize their LinkedIn URL at any chance to entice others to send invitations. As a LION, you will be expected to accept an invitation from complete randoms and usually their friends as well. If you are not comfortable with this, you will probably want to pick another strategy.
Open networkers will have the most extensive networks, usually well over a thousand first connections. As you cannot see how many connections people have beyond the 500 mark, we can only guess how large some of the right LIONs networks are. Ron Bates claims to have over 44,000 connections, and if you are a prolific member of LinkedIn, I will venture to guess he has invited you as well (not sure how he does it!).
2. Professional networker
This is what I believe LinkedIn was intended for, professionals connecting up to further each others’ careers. This would be the most typical LinkedIn user. A salesperson would connect to his or her clients, the client would connect to their suppliers, etc. You don’t have to have met the other person, but you will have dealt with them and deem there is a value being connected for both your careers. Professional networkers will generally have anything from 200 to one thousand connections.
3. Exclusive networker
This category of people will only ever connect to people they know well, trust and respect. This type of network is likely to be very selective and can be drawn upon for passing on introductions and recommendations. You could say that the exclusive networker is not increasing their connections, merely storing them digitally on LinkedIn. There can be several reasons for wanting to be an exclusive networker, keeping your connections and activities confidential is undoubtedly a major one.
While most recruiters are open or professional networkers, some choose to stay exclusive for the simple reason that they don’t want their clients to know what other clients they speak to or they don’t want to bring attention to hot candidates in the market by connecting to them. Yes, you can change your settings more private, but your connections can still see who you are connected to in common for instance. Exclusive networkers will rarely have more than 200 connections, remember that these are tight relationships formed over the years.
A few points
Whatever type of networker you choose to be will be dependent on what the purpose of your LinkedIn membership is. Some industries might favor one type; I wouldn’t expect anyone working for secretive government agencies to be open networkers for instance. I would, however, expect anyone that represents the “Canadian Pharmacy” we have all learned about in our webmail accounts to be a very open networker.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if you put your LinkedIn URL on your email signature, blog or business card, you are expected to accept invitations from people you deal with. So in case you would like to be an exclusive networker, keep the URL to yourself. This goes for phone numbers, your primary email address as well. Even if you are an open networker, you will probably not want every random having your primary email and direct telephone number.
It’s also worth noting that as with most things, most people start with the greatest intentions. They try and stick to exclusive networking at first. They then realize it takes time to build up a strong network this way and increasingly become professional and sometimes even open (LION) networkers over time. There is nothing wrong with any of the three strategies, as long as you know what the implications are.
I am an open networker although I don’t tell the world by sticking LION on my profile, mainly because I don’t think it looks very pleasing on the eye. When I was in recruitment, LinkedIn was something of a goldmine for information and being connected to more people meant I could reach out to and find candidates with particular skills. I continue to use LinkedIn daily and believe I get a lot of value out of my network in many ways.
As with all social media, it’s all about being helpful and doing things for others that will allow you to get the most out of it. So if you have any questions about LinkedIn, I am happy to assist.
What strategy do you use and why?