Archives for posts with tag: Network

I reached a thousand connections on LinkedIn the other day. Given that I almost never connect with someone I don’t know or have not worked with, I consider this a function of my advanced years that I’ve been able to accumulate what is in theory a valuable network.

Of course, there are various tiers to this network. Some of the people in it I actually can’t remember, so I either worked with them very briefly a long time ago or I connected with them when I was under pressure to break my 2 cardinal rules. Others I know better, and others again are part of a small coterie I know very well and would reach out to for help or to give help.

Interestingly, I only realised I was on 998 connections after I had sent out 3 connection requests. I wondered who would be connection number 1,000. Number 999 would be in the top 3 of all my connections influence-wise, and would be a well known name in the Ireland business community. Number 1,000 was someone relatively senior in the UK with whom I have only recently starting working. Number 1,001 is a friend of a friend who has not accepted my request yet.

Getting to a 4-figure network, which I consider to be a genuinely powerful network rather than one of those that is ten times the size and built for the sake of quantity not quality, reminded me how little I currently leverage the network that I have worked so hard to build up over the last 10 or 12 years. I must do better with this important, sleeping giant of an asset…

As a business term, the network effect is an interesting one, explaining that the more people are on a network, the more valuable the network is itself, due to strength in numbers and the critical mass to make it work.

This explains, I think, the value of webs like LinkedIn. If there were a few people in it, as opposed to a few million, it would service virtually no purpose other than that of a small, private, dwindling club..

The network effect means a slightly different thing to me. For me it symbolises the power of who you know over what you know. If you’re looking for a job, or a new contract, or a supplier of some kind, your network is your first point of call. ‘Who do you know who’s looking for or can provide ABC?’ If they can’t help you directly, they might know of someone in their network who can, or they can put out feelers into other networks, rippling out your original request in ever farther – though ever diluting – waves. Added to that, when you look for a new role or contract, knowing someone in the company, especially if they’re recommending you and they have a high perceived value in the company, gives you an almighty leg up on the competition.

It seems to me that my version of the network effect – who you know, not what you know – is still very much in effect, repetition intended. I think it hinges on comfort and trust. It takes some of the guesswork out of finding a new person, short-cuts the process and de-risks it. I guess that’s why so many companies in competitive industries, or industries where supply of quality staff is outpaced by demand, offer finders’ fees for employees who successfully refer in a new recruit.

It’s a smart policy to keep your network up to date. Your diligence will pay you back and you’ll benefit – perhaps many times over – from the network effect.