(Guest Leader Post) So you have 20,000 plus contacts on LinkedIn . . . now what?! (Part 1)

con·tact [kon-takt] noun – an acquaintance, colleague, or relative through whom a person can gain access to information, favors, influential people, and the like.

Source: Dictionary.com

In the broadest sense of the word, having contacts suggests that one as a high degree of influence. However, and especially within the virtual realms of the social networking world where it is much easier to “build” a sizable list of names, does a large number of contacts on LinkedIn connote a proportional level of influence?

I thought about this question recently when I cracked the 20,000 connection mark and read that this lofty number of contacts when rippled outward in six degrees of Kevin Bacon fashion suggested that my total reach was 21,981,700. Wow, that’s almost two-thirds of the population of Canada . . . not counting the beavers, which means that I could in theory and despite the absence of any practical experience, have the kind of reach to be elected Prime Minister. No wonder people equate President Obama’s effective use of social media to that of President Kennedy’s use of television in the early sixties.

My point is simply this . . . what do the number of LinkedIn connections – or for that matter connections on any social network mean, in terms of practical and/or tangible benefit?

What is interesting is that so far there has been very little research and even less data as to what connections mean and how you can quantify their effect in terms of for example revenue for your business.

While on-line advertising has for years tracked the click through rate as a means of enabling you to calculate a return on your Internet-based advertising program, there is no similar method as far as I can tell, to correlate the number of contacts with meaningful business numbers.

Interestingly enough however, there are no shortages of numbers when it comes to proclaiming how many people are involved with social networking as illustrated by a PEW Research Center study which estimated that 82 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are interacting on-line in some network or another. Of course to prove that social networks are not the exclusive domain of the young, a Forrester study claims that more than 50% of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 spend varying degree of times on-line. As for those over the age of 45, we like to take naps.

So there you have it! Lots of people coming in but what is actually coming out relative to a return on the investment of time and yes even money? Or to put it another way, how do you justify the time that you spent on LinkedIn to reach the 20,000 mark?

As you contemplate this question, the answer to which we will delve into at some length in Part 2 on Thursday, why don’t you take a few moments to respond to our LinkedIn poll and let us know the answer to this question . . . With what percentage of your LinkedIn contacts do you actually interact with on a regular basis? (Hint: the answer to this second question may actually help to answer the first question.)

About Jon:

Jon Hansen has studied and written extensively about e-Procurement and the changing face of procurement around the globe.  In addition to being a highly acclaimed international speaker, The PI Social Media Network reaches an audience of 2 million each month worldwide (Procurement Insights, PI Window on Business Show and PI Window on Business Blog).  In December 2010, The PI Social Media Network was listed in the second edition of The Social Media Bible as one of the 120 most influential social media companies in the world.

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About piblogger

Author and Host of the PI Window on The World Show on Blog Talk Radio.

One response to “(Guest Leader Post) So you have 20,000 plus contacts on LinkedIn . . . now what?! (Part 1)”

  1. Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. says :

    Great to see a post from you here, Jon. I wanted to start my Saturday by catching up with Roz’s blog, and here you are – I’m really looking forward to being interviewed on your radio show later today, what a fun coincidence.

    I would love to see stats on this issue, as it’s one that frustrates me. I know that potential corporate clients/publishers etc. now look for signs of “influence”, such as number of followers on Twitter. Yet in my opinion in most cases the number of followers or connections have much less to do with true influence (at least initially – if one aggressively creates 20,000 followers I suppose it ultimately still ends up being influence) and much more to do with the amount of time one spends following anyone and everyone. I get many invitations on LinkedIn from all over the world, but unless it appears that we genuinely have something in common (and the person is not trying to sell me any network marketing product – doctors are such a target), I won’t accept the connection.

    I know people whose assistants use their Twitter accounts to follow x number of people per day,to get as many follows back as humanly possible. And some people’s assistants are even the ones tweeting and “facebooking”, not the actual person. This lack of authenticity drives me wild.

    I love my Facebook community the most (www.facebook.com/drsusanbiali), use Twitter a little bit, and don’t use LinkedIn much, beyond conversations that typically occur when a connection is made. I know I’m not using LinkedIn as much as I should be. More thoughts/stats on this topic would be great!

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