Keep Your Network Warm By Giving Value to Your Connections

How you use and support your network is directly proportional to how much you get out of it. Do you often retweet, and repost colleagues work online? Do you give them a “Well done!” shout out when they announce a new milestone on their LinkedIn profile? How about their personal Facebook page, when they share a new PR in their training or dieting regimen? It’s not always just WHO YOU KNOW, it’s how well you know them, and critically important: what have you done for THEM lately?

Today LinkedIn introduced a virtual mapping tool to visualize your network. Here’s my link: John McElhenney’s LinkedIn Connection Map  And here are a few of my screen grabs from my map.

1. An overview of my map, and highlighting one of my more connective friends.

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2. Closer dive into the spidery network of connections. And revealing that connector, local business luminary Sam Decker.

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Let’s do a gut check with this random connection and see what we come up with.

Sam Decker: Initial partner of Bazaarvoice, now CEO of up-and-comer Mass Relevance. A very good person to stay connected with. And since I just pulled him out of the digital map, let’s see what connective touch points we’ve had over the last few years. (Yes, years.)

I tracked Sam down during the early days of Bazaarvoice. They were a target for my future employment and I wanted to know and meet as many of the C-level executives as possible. I exchanged several In-Mail messages with Sam and a few other BV big wigs. In 2009 I was in transition out of my Dell role, and into social media consulting, and I pinged Sam via LinkedIn and then Twitter to arrange a meetup at SXSW. Because we were “connected” friends and he remembered my name, he took the meeting and we met between sessions, that year, in the lobby of the Hilton hotel.

We exchanged first-hand updates, historical connections, and the burgeoning market that Sam was getting ready to wrestle with at Mass Relevance. And that was the entire  conversation. We agreed that we would work together when some opportunity came up, but at that moment, we were very focused on our own paths and business development.

Over the next few years, as Mass Relevance gained traction, investment, and breakout momentum, I kept in touch with Sam on both LinkedIn and Facebook. When ever he would make a winning announcement on Facebook, I was often the first person to say, “Well done.” And that was enough. I was not looking for business or connections from Sam. I was merely letting him know I was following along with his success and that I wished him well.

Today, I don’t yet have a need to introduce a client or potential client to Mass Relevance. But I know that when I do, I will get in at the top. Sam will most likely take my call (or tweet, or In-mail message) and refer me to someone who could actually make the meeting, deal, introduction happen. Sam is that kind of guy. You know Sam and you know a connector who is very well-connected.

How well are you connected? Do you OFTEN introduce people in your network to other people who might help them achieve their goals? Do you say, “Well done!” often enough?

In this hyper-connected world it is visibility that counts. If Sam sees that 45 people have LIKED his update on Facebook and 3 people have actually commented on it, which names do you think he will remember. Memory and social media are very transient things. What is HOT this minute is gone in a flurry of updates and posts in the next minute. So think about how many times you would like to come up in someone’s network with a congratulations. Rather than a “hello, let me show you what I’m doing.” but a “Let me say something about how kick ass your new venture looks.” Better yet, “Let me introduce you to this client of mine who needs to get onboard with your services.”

You can’t make those WARM CONNECTIONS without an ongoing relationship. Today that relationship may involve personal Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, blogs, emails, txts, even Facebook Direct Messages. But you can’t afford NOT to be generating your own Connective Network, and seeding your own connections with opportunity and praise. Sam will recognize my name today, if I call, even though we have met ONCE. We have exchanged 20 messages via the social networks we share in the 7 years since I first grabbed for an introduction via LinkedIn.

Keep your network warm by giving value to your connections.

Here’s my LinkedIn Profile (if we’re not connected already)

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
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