Network is King, especially on LinkedIn. Having connections lets you see and be seen, and you need that magnitude of first-degree connections before you can even begin to dream of success on the platform. For the beginners on LinkedIn looking for a growth hack, LinkedIn Open Networkers, also known as LIONs, are a quick way ahead. What do they do, and how should you maximize their value?
Who are they?
LIONs refers to professionals on LinkedIn who are open to connecting with anyone and everyone. They operate to build a massive network, and they do this by accepting every and any invitation. They are one of the most polarising groups of people on LinkedIn, with some members equating them to spam, while others have seen their value in bridging previously closed groups of people.
Linkedin’s algorithm prioritizes relevancy. The platform keeps your feed trim by pushing lots of content from a first-degree connection. While this makes your feed extremely relatable, it also means that any content you produce will have a hard time reaching any audiences beyond your immediate circle. Because LIONs are so open to connecting and networking with anyone, they then have the power to bridge previously closed groups of people. It’s also worth noting that when they engage with your content, your reach increases dramatically as well. They can thus be a conduit to serve your content to more audiences. Having a more extensive network also means your profile shows up more often in searches, and you have a better chance of being discovered.
On the flipside, LIONs do not qualify their connections, and this draws comparisons to spamming. The internet is a noisy place, and LIONs dilute your network and feed, showing more unrelated content as your connections with them grow. When you make LinkedIn a numbers game, it becomes easy to miss out on developing real relationships with more relevant contacts. After all, it is near impossible for a stranger to provide you with accurate and sincere value when they have no idea who you are or what you do. More importantly, there is little to no benefit in connecting with someone whose network is filled with low-quality connections.
Undoubtedly, LIONs do bring value to their opening networking, but it is vital to approach them with the right objectives and attitude. Instead of connecting blindly for the numbers, qualify your LION even if they don’t qualify you. Check the type of connections they have, the kind of content on their newsfeed, and evaluate if their extended network is of value to you. A general rule of thumb is to connect with a LION in your industry of choice. Always drop them a note after you connect, so you can take the first step of building a meaningful connection, which then leads to more genuine engagement and recommendations.
You can consider joining a LION group instead of connecting with the LION themselves. This grants you access to massive networks without requiring you to make a connection with people you don’t know, as connections through common groups also increase your appearance rates in searches. Choose groups carefully, and request membership in well-established groups like Leading International Open Networkers. Once you’re in, look out for the LIONs who post interesting and valuable content, who you can then connect with. This lets you make the best use of LIONs without being one yourself.
There are many other ways to achieve success on Linkedin, and LIONs are your hack to a sizable first-degree network. That said, you should tread lightly and do your homework on who you are connecting with. That will help make your connections more meaningful.