Why do we link on Linkedin?

So just been in a meeting and got asked a great question… “why do people link with each other on sites like Linkedin” It was a fairly off the cuff answer but I said. “To progress themselves” that’s it, no other reason. People link for a variety of underlying reasons but fundamentally they all sit in the personal development pot. So, people link with me on Linked in because

  1. They know me and want to increase their network
  2. They like what I say and want to learn more
  3. They don’t like what I say and want to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes
  4. To sell me something
  5. To buy from me.

I find it hard to believe anyone would link with me because they like my photo…

The reasons I link with people on Linkedin is for the same reasons, to broaden my network, to educate myself via thought leaders, debates and opinions, to buy from people and to sell to people. All of these reasons lie in the self development desire. I like this because it gives me a mini framework around whether to link or not to link, it helps me justify what I write and what I comment on, am I delivering value to the people who link with me. To reference Gary Vaynerchuck ‘jab jab punch’ we are all in a space here where we have to be cautious about what we are saying, to ensure it’s not to ‘facebooky’ to deliver opinions and debate but ultimately to deliver¬†little chunks of ‘value’ at balanced intervals. So deliver little ‘jabs’ of value and then to deliver a ‘punch’ such as an opinion piece like this article.

As someone who has had his own marcomms company for 20+ years I’ve been to a fair few events and networking do’s where the premise is the same, to speak with like minded individuals and to ‘network’. You mean sell don’t you… yes of course it’s lovely to go have a coffee and a ham butty and to meet people but fundamentally we’re all there for the same reason, to progress ourselves in one way or another. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it as that is the way of business, and I love going to network events, on the proviso that they deliver me value back, otherwise what’s the point. I’ve been to many events where the speaker has been awful, the people in the room are just there to sell to me and there is little debate or opportunity to express opinions. Linkedin is a virtual networking event, in real time, with tons of speakers, incredible amounts of value, loads of people trying to sell stuff, tons of people trying to buy stuff. We have really well balanced debates from thought leaders, we have the wolves that jump on any post for ‘i need a …’ and we have people that make really bad comments that get devoured by the Linkedin ‘police’.

The deep rooted reason we connect on here is because of our need to belong, Seth Godin calls it ‘tribes’ and that’s a good analogy, we run businesses as leaders and we have our followers, but on Linkedin there is no ‘leader’ so we are all followers. We are all here to learn and to progress. We link with people who are like minded, after my post on M&S that had over 160,000 views and shared 100’s of times I had a raft of people linking with me, not because I’m Simon, because they shared my view. It has never been easier to link with CEO’s of global organisations. As a human race we do our very best to belong to a group of like minded people. It has seen some incredible moments and some catastrophic ones. Anyway that’s for another ramble another day…

I guess the punchline here is that now I have a simple way to explain to clients what Linkedin is for, rather than going into it’s ability to join up with people in ‘my gang’, the ability to sell stories, the ability to say ‘look what I did!’ simply, it’s a great resource for progressing yourself and your business.

But only if you link with the right people, deliver value and respect the fundamentals of networking ethics.



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