The Working Smarter Way to a Stronger Professional Network

Learn how you could be making more sales with less stress. This post provides professional network growth tips to help social selling pros work smarter.

April 28, 2015

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In his recent blog post, sales expert Anthony Iannarino issued some hard-hitting truths about working. "You don’t outwork your competitors by working more hours," says Iannarino. "The number of hours you are ‘on the clock’ is not a measurement of work, unless you do manual labor. You can get to work early and turn the lights on, and stay late and be the last to leave the parking lot and still be outworked and out hustled."

In the social selling era, a strong professional network makes it easier for sales pros to work smarter. But there’s a common misconception about what “network strength” actually means. Many folks assume that the strength of your professional network ties directly to the number of people in your network. The more people you add on LinkedIn, the stronger your network. But this isn’t necessarily true. After all, what good is a massive network if only a small percentage of your connections are comfortable recommending you, or even introducing you? When you think about it, it’s the percentage of connections who can open doors for you that determines the true effectiveness of your network, and these are the types of relationships sales pros will want to prioritize.

To further illustrate this point, think about how people misuse business cards. People hand them out to just about everyone they encounter in the professional world. Pre-LinkedIn days, I was one of those people. Now many people misuse LinkedIn as a digital business card. And because it’s digital and easy to connect with people, their network sky rockets from the hundreds to the thousands. On the surface this feels like a win, but you can’t build and maintain professional relationships unless you are smart about who you connect with.

A good example of this is how I got my job at LinkedIn. At my last job, I was using LinkedIn to search for other content marketing opportunities and found a position at LinkedIn. I realized that Maria Ignatova who managed content with me at Desk.com and Salesforce.com was connected to the hiring manager for the position, which was Koka Sexton. I used LinkedIn to connect with Maria, whom introduced me to Koka.

One of the best parts about selling is constantly meeting new people. Now as I previously mentioned, it won’t make sense to connect on LinkedIn with every new person you encounter, but it is important to make sure that you are taking advantage of new connection opportunities that show potential. Try putting a system in place to ensure network-building opportunities don’t slip through the cracks. Setting aside just five minutes at the end of each day for crafting personalized, memorable connection requests can lead to significant, effective network growth in a relatively short period of time. And when you create your network with a purpose, you can outwork the competition with less effort.

Working smarter isn’t a “someday” thing – it’s an “everyday” thing. Start working smarter today by checking out our eBook, 6 Steps to Accelerate Your Sales in 2015.

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