Dunbar’s magic number and re-energising your LinkedIn networking skills
Remember in the early days of Twitter and LinkedIn when we amassed hundreds of contacts at the touch of a button and called it networking? Is this real networking? And what sort of contact is accepting a friend, link or follow request anyway?
According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the “magic number” of how many people a single person can know “really well” is 150. So how on earth can we honestly say that we know the 1500+ people that are in our network?
We know it’s an impossible task to attempt to equal the advantages of face-to-face contact. As Dunbar quotes “It’s extremely hard to cry on a virtual shoulder, having a conversation isn’t like a lighthouse; it’s not just blinking away out there and maybe someone is listening, and maybe somebody is not.” Networking ‘virtually’ takes a little more time than just clicking a like, and now that we’re faced with doing everything online, it’s easy to get complacent and think that we’re fulfilling our duty in a networking capacity because we’ve allowed a person to link with us.
So, how can we keep our virtual selves active and interesting and be in a better position to turn those contacts into possible leads in the future?
Here at Jump we’ve jotted down a list of what we think could help.
- Re-visit your profile photo and look natural! Obviously, we don’t mean take a shot of yourself in your PJ’s but if your photo was taken more than three years ago and you’re in a stuffy suit and tie or jacket, think about how you want your network to see you now.
- Review your ‘About’ section As with your photo – review and refresh the description to liven up your back story.
- Reconnect with contacts you’ve lost touch with – If you’re a little rusty contacting anyone through the message tab, then this is a great exercise. Just saying the words “Hey – how are you?” will not cut it though. If you’re going to contact someone, make it personal to them. To make your connections feel even more loved, you can also engage with their content by “liking” or commenting positively on their posts to show support.
- Try to post on a regular basis – Include relevant hashtags on your content, which will extend visibility of your post beyond your main connections. But don’t overdo it!
- Join LinkedIn groups. If you want to get noticed and make further connections with industry contacts, do so by joining groups. Search the words “tech groups” and the list will be endless. Pick the right ones, and they become useful for insights and connecting to others in your network that share the same interests.
- Positivity is contagious, comment on posts in a positive and useful way– Don’t agree with negative comments! Only comment if it’s beneficial to your network. If you comment occasionally on articles that someone publishes, you’ll soon become “known” to them, despite never having met them in person. Just makes sure it’s going to brighten someone’s day instead of fuelling a particular negative vibe that’s trending. No one likes moaners!
At the very least, doing a 5-10 minute check on your LinkedIn network every day is a positive exercise and will keep you active amongst your virtual peers. Now is the perfect time to build relationships with your connections so that you and your business are well positioned for the future.