How to Rekindle a Cold LinkedIn Network

“If you needed some help from someone other than yourself right now, who could you ask?” Chris Brogan asks in his recent Sunday newsletter.  

In his article, Chris suggests three ways to “Warm Up Your Network.” For brevity’s sake (and to encourage you to zip over and subscribe to his newsletter), here’s a distilled version:

  • A “network” simply means a list of people you have some way of reaching out to for communication.
  • A “warm” network means these people interact with you in some form or another often enough to feel like they’ve been in touch with you.
  • The best way to keep a network warm is to feed value into other people without them asking for it: refer extra work to them. Promote their work to other people. Show other people that you care about their success long before you ask for anything. (Even better if you NEVER ask for anything).

Why Networks Go Cold

So, why is this important?

Like many of us, my week often feels like a hamster wheel of calls, Teams meetings, marketing copy, product development, video production, as well as publishing to Substack, Medium, and LinkedIn…

Somewhere along the way, I started to neglect my network.

Remember, this is the same network that’s landed me my best jobs, provided the recommendations that opened doors, and kept the wheels spinning on my business, especially when I was a freelance White Paper writer.

I think we can both agree that while it’s easy to get distracted with being busy, we need to strategically cultivate our networks.

How to Kindle a Cold Network

So, how do we address this?

First off is your attitude towards networking.

If you see networking as a chore, it’s not going to work. Your connections with others will reflect this.

Each hour will drain your energy and leave you resenting you could be doing better ‘more productive’ things for your business. Maybe it’s true. If that’s the case, stop networking and go back to what you were doing.

However, if you see networking as a way to help others, and repay them for the help they’ve given you, you’ll feel more energized, enthusiastic, willing to help. Your tweets, replies, emails will all reflect this.

Here’s a suggested approach on how to help your connections. 

#1 Ringfence first-level connections

Think of your network as a mix of weak (cold) and strong (warm) links. Not everyone in your network has the same weight.

Suggestion? Take an hour and import your network to Excel. Then assign a priority level to connections. P1, P2, P3. This shows you the metabolic rate of your network.

Just to be clear, your P1 connections are probably not the ‘most followed’ on LinkedIn or Substack.

Rather, it’s those who you can help the most. It’s the people who’ve helped you over the years. You’ve met them at seminars, know their face, worked on projects. Put these in the P1 column.

Now, how many do you have? Less than you were expecting, right?

As they say in sports, the table doesn’t lie. Once you see how few P1 connections you have, the next step is to adjust this.

To recap: Give first level connections the attention they deserve. Look at what they’re doing, see where you can help, and introduce them to the right people.

#2 Evaluate your networking criteria

Next, establish guidelines on who to add to your network.

After this, start to prune, refine, and prioritize connections.

Let’s say you have 200 LinkedIn connections. Prune dead and inactive accounts. After this, block out time to rekindle your P1s, warm up P2s, and identify connections you can introduce to others.

Damien, now that you’re starting a podcast on Nuclear Energy, do you want me to introduce you to Ciara who wrote a book about this last year?”

The last point is important.

I’m always cautious about recommending someone unless I can vouch for their work. After all, my recommendation reflects back on me. So, it’s that small sub-set of connections you want to zero in on.

On the flip side… to get into someone else’s list of recommendations, consider what you could do to demonstrate the qualities that are likely to lead to them vouching for you. 

Refine your network as follows:

  • Dormant: purge inactive or low value connections.
  • Active: identify active connections that merit attention. For example, they’ve written a new book. Reach out and see if you can interview them for your Substack, newsletter, or podcast. 
  • Recommendable: identify the connections that go the extra yard to help others. To be clear, this doesn’t mean colleagues who leave “Great post” type comments but add real value. Would you recommend this person to someone else? If you would, great!

As mentioned, your goal is to ringfence your best connections. To do this, declutter the list, then set about evaluating the middle tier connections. Can you help their business in a tangible way? If not, focus your energy elsewhere.

#3 Review Network ROI

Identify the networking channels that provide the best returns. Previously, networking meant LinkedIn.

Today, it’s moved to Slack channels, and publishing platforms, such as Medium and Substack.

As you only have a finite amount of time each week, block out specific time slots to network. Don’t assume you’ll find time during the week, then discover on Saturday when you review your week, that you’ve made no meaningful contributions during the week.

If LinkedIn moves the needle for your business, and your connections are all here, then fine. However, if you’ve noticed that they’ve moved elsewhere, find out where they’ve moved to. That’s probably where you should be investing your energy. If you’re not sure where to start, go to Reddit, find your community, and ask for recs. People are usually glad to help.

In short: Be intentional. What worked yesterday may not work today. Identify the platforms with the most active and helpful communities. In general, they’re small and focused. When you join, be helpful, promote it on your socials, and introduce yourself to members.

#4 Identify what you have to offer

As mentioned above, develop an outreach plan to connect with others. However, before you start this, be clear on what you’re bringing to the table. How can you help them? When can you help?

One suggested approach is to monitor what they’re working on – for example, developing a new podcast – then reach out and introduce them to a good interview fit.

Make introductions that accelerate their business. Hopefully, this will be reciprocated but start out from that angle. Be helpful and let the word spread.

#5 Cross-Platform Promotion

Previously, it was enough to leave a comment on LinkedIn.

However, as we now interact on different platform and channels, consider the best way to ‘be everywhere’ while providing value when you do contribute.

Don’t leave “That’s great” or “Agree” clutter comments. It’s counterproductive. It suggests you’ve nothing interesting to contribute.

Instead, focus on a small set of sites, block out time to contribute, and provide useful contributions.

Here’s how to do this.

  • In your web browser, create a folder, and add the five channels that provide the best networking opportunities.
  • Then, when you have 30 min to work on networking, right-click on the folder and Open All. This opens all the channels at once so you get started.
  • Close everything else first to remove distractions for the next half hour.

PS – In terms of developing a social media presence, study Christopher S Penn. When he ‘amplifies’ his work across different media, it never undermines the integrity of the content. See the LinkedIn Edition of the Almost Timely Newsletter.

#6 Huddle

Finally, once you’ve identified your core set of connections, setup a ‘huddle’ with 3-5 colleagues.

A huddle is an online video meeting, hyper focused on a specific area. It’s a great way to kickstart projects.

Here’s how I use it.

  • Send an agenda to 3-5 friends max.
  • See if we can get at least 3 to attend.
  • Schedule the huddle.
  • One person serves as the chair, another a note taker. I don’t record the meetings as people tend to clam up on camera.
  • Collate the notes, send them out.
  • Agree on next steps. For example, how can we apply what we learnt before the next meeting.

Refine the process…

In addition, I’ll schedule a 1:1 meeting. Here I’ll work with the other person often as a type of sounding board. This is also a great way to catch up.

The Finer Points

The best time to start networking is yesterday. In the Klariti framework, we use a key value-driven approach to rekindle cold networks and cultivating strong ties.

If your connections have gone dormant over time, use an intentional, systematic framework to evaluate existing connections and prioritize the most significant relationships.

Make sure to nurture core connections by providing assistance, sharing relevant insights, and making introductions that can benefit them. In addition, identify the networking platforms and communities where your key connections are most active and engaged. By doing so, you can focus on targeted digital spaces rather than spreading yourself thin across numerous sites.

Finally, don’t view networking as an obligation, but as a way to support your friends in a meaningful way. If you continuously providing insights and connections that accelerate their growth, you solidify your relationships and expand your own opportunities.

Have you noticed that your network has gone cold? If so, what steps are you taking to rekindle those connections?

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