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As a sales professional in this day and age, are you interested in building relationships or collecting connections? Sounds like a rhetorical question and one that may rub some of you the wrong way (which is not my intention).

In the world of social media, especially LinkedIn, it is plain to see that there are many people who are going the way of being L.I.O.N.’s (LinkedIn Open Networkers/LION). I’m asked about my feelings towards being a LION, meaning you are open to accepting anyone’s connection regardless of professional background, geography, or typically any other qualifying criteria that the non-LIONs would use to determine acceptability.

So what’s the difference and why should you care? Watch this video to learn more.

From a sales perspective, each approach has its specific advantages and disadvantages and you have to decide which suits your best interest at present. Let’s analyze the effectiveness of each.

Which Is Right For you?

If you’re in an industry that requires mass marketing and blitzing of message, then being a Connection Collector (LION) may serve your interest. You can connect to the tens of thousands of LIONs on LinkedIn and an access to a tremendously large network. If you sell a mass market product (such as an online product/service) this may serve your interests very well.

If you believe the idea of the 6 Degrees of Separation in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, then your ability to network to the right people may very well help you.

But what about the downsides of being a Connection Collector?

If you’re in a traditional B2B sales role, beyond 500 connections, it’s not really about the size of your network but what you do with it. Here are some questions you need to answer honestly:

  • Are you able to network with your audience well?
  • Are you regularly having conversations with your network?
  • Are you able to provide information that helps guide/influence them in their buying journey?
  • Are you routinely helping people in your network with questions they’re asking?

If you’re unable to do this, then having a large network is just a vanity metric my friends. You may be an effective LinkedIn Open Networker, and if so I’d love to hear from you. But the majority of LIONs I see aren’t able to add value to their network.

The Ideal State

For me the idea state is where you have a large, targeted and focused network full of potential buyers that are being helped and nurtured with the information that you share. There are MANY people like this on LinkedIn like Jill Rowley, Trish Bertuzzi, Jill Konrath, Craig Elias and more.

They are able to help their networks en masse because their area of expertise is laser focused and it serves their audience with actionable insights and strategies.

This is the state I aspire to and am working towards: a large network of targeted potential buyers who are being helped with my knowledge.

Is Your LinkedIn Profile Holding You Back

The Bottom Line

Before you jump towards being a Connection Collector, remember that LinkedIn and Twitter (from a B2B perspective) isn’t a popularity contest like Facebook might be. These are platforms where you house your professional presence and it’s important that the people you connect with are potential buyers and people that will be your advocates/supporters.

I know many fantastic LIONs/Connection Collectors on LinkedIn and their objectives are beautifully tied to their connecting habits. They’re able to build incredible contacts that are helping in their individual businesses.

Also note that if you’re in a traditional B2B sales role and your primary objective is to meet, connect and build meaningful relationships, then being a LION/Connection Collector won’t serve your interests. Instead you’ll have a noisy news feed where you’re not able to gather information effectively and likely won’t be able to help many people beyond the surface level.

Need help and feedback on your connection strategy? Feel free to set up some time with me by clicking the button below. Remember, social selling isn’t difficult, it’s just different.

Amar Sheth

CTA

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Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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