As a child growing up, most kids know which parent is easier to work with to get what they want. Maybe knowing that Grandma is more likely then mom to give them ice cream every Saturday. The kid most likely does what he or she can to get Grandma to help them out and continue to provide that delicious treat – leveraging their relationship for mutual and often, personal gain. As a child, this behavior is just fun, but also rewarding.
As an adult, we play by different sets of rules, but not too far removed from those of our childhood. We still make friends and business acquaintances who at some point we leverage to find a new job, get project work, or use as a reference. LinkedIn may very well be the best modernizer of networking in today’s world. You no longer necessarily need to have met someone to be within their sphere of influence. Merely being associated with someone is sometimes enough to gain you the leverage you seek for your next career move or goal. For example, I could know Joe personally, but Joe is networked to Bob, the CEO of a top Fortune 500 company. A potential employer looking at my profile could see that I’m only 1 degree away from Bob and believe that I have a far reaching sphere of influence. Likewise, I could request Bob connect with me on LinkedIn and he accepts because Joe is a friend of his as well – giving me direct access to a top CEO. It all comes back to the theory of 6 degrees of separation, where everyone anywhere knows each other within 6 people.
But we’re not the only ones doing this, our network is also using us for their gain, too. While we’re leveraging other people’s networks, people are leveraging ours. I often receive a half dozen requests each week from recruiters, companies, and individuals, looking to connect on the popular social media platform. Having access to my 500+ connections, allows them to expand their network as well. When it comes to accepting connections, though, I am cautious, as having an individual with a bad reputation and poor work ethic within your network, may steer others away.
Play the networking game, it’s a vital part of success in today’s digital marketplace. Use your network to achieve your goals and help others that you trust do the same. LinkedIn is one of many business social platforms, but the leader in today’s market.