Are You Missing An Important Networking Opportunity?

Networking: Why Loose Connections Rule

When an executive decides to start networking the first thing, he does is make a list of current and former managers, co-workers and other business contacts. While this list generally contains family members (because they have to help him,) it often overlooks one significant group –his closest friends. It means he’s missing out on the power of loose connections.

Part of the reason many people aren’t connected to close friends on business platforms is that these people know you as well as your family does because they’ve stood by you through thick and thin. They see you warts and all. As a result, their impression of you is colored by your shared experiences. This can cause them to have a hard time seeing you as a new business colleague might.

A colleague who’s a senior marketing executive and a networker par excellence confided in me that she wasn’t LinkedIn to her best friend.  Her follow up comment was revealing and reflects a sentiment held by many networkers. “I know where to find her so why do I need to connect with a close friend?” Does this sentiment sound familiar?

My friend isn’t alone in her thinking. Check your connections on LinkedIn and other business-oriented social media platforms. Are your best friends connected to you? If not, like my colleague, you’re missing an opportunity. Of course, if you need advice you can phone, text or email and you’re sure to get a quick response. But you’re losing out on the power of loose connections.

What are loose connections and why are they powerful for networking?

Loose connections are the contacts of your immediate contacts. These people are one step removed from you. You may have met at a gathering with your friend or heard about them in conversation but you don’t have a real relationship with them. Unlike your close friends, family and colleagues, this distance allows them to see you with a fresh perspective. This point of view combined with your friend’s endorsement is powerful. It opens up a set of new potential relationships and sets you on your way.

Making these connections via a social media platform is less direct. As a result, you don’t feel like you’re imposing as you might if you had to pick up the phone and call someone directly.  The added benefit is that it’s more efficient for you and the person with whom you’re networking.

Don’t believe it? Put out a request on your favorite social media network and see the information that comes flowing back to you. Social media runs on the power of loose connections, often referred to as six degrees of separation. Instead of your friends, you’ve got your social media tribe to support you.

Remember you never know the path of connections that will lead to your next business lead or job offer. Therefore, it’s important to maximize the power of your network of loose connections.

Have you experienced the power of loose connections? If so, would you please share your story?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Big tip of my hat to my social media tribe, #UsGuys.

Here are some related articles about networking.

Photo credit: Andres Rueda via Flickr

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