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Maximizing LinkedIn’s Potential

I’ve read comments by many experts on how to tap in to LinkedIn’s potential, and many of the ideas are good: Be involved in group discussions, set yourself up as an expert in your field by responding to questions, etc. However, I recently had an interesting thought, but I really don’t know what to do with it, so I thought I’d post it here to see if we can come up with something workable:

When I logged on to LinkedIn some time back, I was greeted with a post that said something like “Between you and your contacts, you have approx. 28,000 contacts.” That moment was almost an epiphone when I realized that 28,000 of ANYTHING is a lot! Certainly in that 28,000, I could find enough qualified clients and referrals to retire from my marketing tasks. (Well, maybe not really…. but you know what I mean).

The more I thought about it, the idea of the BNI model came to mind. (For those of you who don’t know about BNI, it’s a worldwide networking organization where local chapters consisting of non-competing businesses meet weekly to get to know each other and share qualifed referrals. It uses the concept of “Givers Gain”, which can never be a bad concept). In other words, I wondered how the 28,000 of us could tap in to this resource for leads, strategic alliances, suppliers, personnel, etc.

For instance, I thought: “Wow imagine the potential if I sent an email to 28,000 people. Even if only 2 or 3% qualified to fill my need, that’s betwen 500-800 people – not a bad number!” (I think they call that spam!!) But then I thought of the Givers Gain concept. So no, it wouldn’t be reasonable for me to attempt to contact 28,000 people without some sort of reciprocity. On the other hand, I certainly don’t want to receive 28,000 emails – and obviously no one else would want to either. I also don’t want to go to jail for violating spam laws.

So there’s the dilemma! We have this resource of 28,000 (or whatever your number is), but how do we tap into it? I posed that question to all of my LinkedIn contacts, but didn’t receive as many responses as I had hoped, so now I’ll ask anyone:

THE QUESTION FOR YOU: Who has some ideas as to how to make this tool really work – particularly when we have 2nd & 3rd degree access to so many people? I’d love to hear your thoughts. There are no right or wrong answers. Who knows, maybe we can come up with some ideas the experts haven’t thought of yet.