It has been a pretty crazy week around here--with a huge snowstorm midweek and all of us fanatical Green Bay Packers fans preparing for the big game on Sunday.  In spite of these major events, we are still getting some decent business done as well.

Speaking of business, I sure hope this week's LinkedIn advice leads you to a lot more of that as you continue to sharpen your LinkedIn skills.  So here goes.

Beginner Tip

People are constantly asking me:  How many connections is enough?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but for those of you who have been to one of my training classes, one thing I am sure of is that you cannot have enough number one connections who are "trusted professionals" as defined by no one else but you.

Now, I have been noticing some people who are suffering from "number one connection envy."  That is where you look at how many connections others have, wish you had that many, and believe "all would be well" if you did.  That is a pretty silly concept, but I am sure many of you have thought about that at one time or another.

In order to help with this, I want you to consider the following thoughts in answering the question of how many connections is enough:

  • Are you in a very transactional business?  (If so, the more connections the better)
  • Is your business national in scope?  (More connections will probably be better; most have groups by region)
  • Is your business cycle long and highly customized? (This may lead to less connections that are deeper)
  • Are you using your network for not only potential customers but also looking for supplier relationships or prospective employees? (If so, larger is better with potential subgroups by purpose)
  • Do you consistently use the power of the "work-in-process" connection after you have attended a networking event?  In other words, you connect with people you suspect may be valuable connections and then work at developing the relationship. (If so, you may have a larger group)

The answer to this question goes back to something I talk about over and over, and that is what is your strategy and what are you trying to accomplish on LinkedIn.  If you haven't written these goals and strategies down on paper, this may be a good time to do so, and from that you may find the answer to this question.

Advanced Strategy Help

Based on my 2011 LinkedIn User Survey, the Linkedin feature most people selected as being the most helpful in their LinkedIn strategy was Groups.  Not only was this the first time in the three years I have been conducting this survey that Advanced People Searching was not the winner, but this was the highest response rate to this question ever, with over 82% of the respondents picking this feature as most helpful.  In previous surveys, Groups always held a spot somewhere in the top three.  So clearly most people find this feature helpful.  If you are not feeling the same way, you might want to reconsider your approach and usage.

Let me start by asking you this question:

"Would it be beneficial for you to know where the most connected people in your industry are hanging out?  It is sort of like the corner tavern or neighborhood meeting spot.  If you know where the action is in your neighborhood, you tend to go there in order to get caught up on what is going on, in hopes that the people you see and the information they share will help you.

People in bar

That is what some of the groups (especially industry groups) feel like and even act like on LinkedIn.  Follow these specific steps, and you will find your industry's most important watering holes or hangout spots:

  • Go to the top tool bar and click "Profile," then "View Profile."
  • Click your industry (mine is Furniture).
  • This should take you to the Advanced People Search screen and a list of your connections in your industry.
  • Again enter the name of your industry (Furniture) in the Keyword box on the top left.  This is required by LinkedIn in order to move your search past your connections and into the entire LinkedIn database.
  • Change the "Sort by" on the top from "Relevance" to "Connections."
  • Click the blue Search box.
  • What you now have is a list of all the individuals in the entire LinkedIn world in your industry who also have that keyword somewhere in their profile.  The person with the most connections is at the top of the list.  In other words, you have a list of the most connected people in your industry (listed in order from most to least connected).
  • Now scroll down and look for individuals who look like they are even closer to your specific section of the industry.  (For me, finding office furniture people is better than let's say residential furniture people).  Once you find a good candidate, click on his/her profile and review the LinkedIn groups that person is a member of.
  • Make a list of the groups that you are not in but should be in and join them ASAP.
  • Repeat these steps for other secondary industries you may be involved in or (wink wink) what about industries your customers are in? (Don't tell anyone I told you this one--top secret!)
I hope this tip helps you figure out just where you should be hanging out (of course, I mean in LinkedIn groups).
I have designed a really helpful tool to assist you in finding the right LinkedIn groups.  It is called LinkedIn Groups-Ca$h in On This Powerful Tool.  Check it out in the Free Resources section of my website.