On LinkedIn this morning, I saw that one of my connections (whom, by the way, I have never met in person) was asking her network how many connections were they aiming for this year. It got me to thinking whether networking should be a numbers game (quantity).
We’ve all heard of SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). In that sense, to have a SMART networking goal, you would indeed have a number, as this would make it measurable.
So say you decide you want to make 25 new connections this year, and you only make 15, have you failed at your goal? What if from those 15 connections, you got valuable advice, a job lead and a new best friend?
Can you measure networking by numbers? I don’t think you can, and I don’t think you should.
As a business owner, I attend my fair share of networking events. I am not someone who works the room, making sure to shake everybody’s hand. Instead, I generally end up talking to one or two people more in depth. I understand the value in having a wide network, but I would rather get there more slowly.
If people know who I am because we’ve had several conversations in person, isn’t that better than trying to expand a network by sending a bunch of blind invitations “people you may know?”
LinkedIn is a great tool and as such, many people, such as the person I referenced at the beginning of the post, tend to abuse it. Too many people think networking is all about quantity regardless of quality. In fact, successful networking is both a quantity and a quality proposition.
What are your thoughts? What is your networking advice?