Monday, January 12, 2015

Just Because You Have 500+ Connections Doesn't Mean Your Network Is Healthy

You may run a profitable, fast-growing startup, but without an active network of trusted and influential connections, your business probably isn't living up to its full potential in terms of sales, profits, and growth.

Referrals and connections are the currency of the business world, and taking the time to build and nurture your network really pays off in the form of new leads, personal opportunities, and good old-fashioned social capital.

Even if you have 500+ connections on LinkedIn and a Klout score that's through the roof, there's really no way to know how strong your network is without actually testing it.

Here are three ways to assess your network and ensure your connections are happy and healthy:

1. Perform a network audit. To check that your network is thriving, set aside some time each month or quarter to ask yourself several key questions about the state of your community interactions and relationships:
  • Who's in your circle? Ideally, you should aim to build a diverse network of professionals across a variety of industries (rather than scores of colleagues from your core industry or the same firm). Check out how well-rounded your network is, and if it seems too one-sided, it might be time to reach out to new colleagues in other industries.
  • How often are you interacting with others? The frequency of interactions with your network can give you an idea of how well it's functioning. If you never seem to receive any queries, recommendations, or invitations, try squeezing in another social event this month, or spend an extra hour making new connections and offering endorsements on LinkedIn.
  • Are you able to call on your network? A healthy, active network will be there for you whenever you need it--not just in times of trouble. Try reaching out, and if nobody responds, you might need to dedicate more time to cultivating those relationships more actively (and with reciprocity) at conferences and industry events.

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