Cut Back Your Network To Help It Grow


‘Another year over and a new one just begun….’

This is a great time to strengthen our networks. Just as we cut-back our fruit trees in winter to ensure an abundance of fresh growth in the spring, we need to prune our networks also.

The number of people we follow on Twitter or are connected with on Linkedin is not the most important element, but rather the quality our network.

Over the year, you may have followed folk based on a passing interest for your business, which may have since lost its relevance. Therefore you may now wish to unfollow such accounts. Likewise, you might have connected with people on Linkedin, for particular reasons, which are no longer relevant. Either way, it is always prudent to prune or, ‘Cut Back To Grow’ (See also my Networking Tips Blog) Remember also people won’t be informed that you unfollow or unconnect with them.

In the 1990’s British anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed that we humans are only really capable of maintaining stable social relationships with a finite number of people. He stated this lies between 100 & 250, but the commonly used value quoted is 150. While this theory is difficult to refute, what wasn’t factored into the equation 20 years ago was the advent of social media. This proved to be a massive disruptor. Traditional networking on steroids. Technology suddenly enabled mass networking. However, it is often the case, that quality is inversely proportional to quantity.

So, if you want to see ‘the wood from the trees’, get pruning your network and watch it grow back stronger.

Using Twitter – Who needs to know what you had for breakfast?

Tweet from plane

Something happened recently which really brought home to me the power of Twitter. On a flight from New York back home to Ireland, the behaviour of another passenger as they boarded struck me as strange. Instead of mentioning this to a stranger sitting beside me, I shared this thought to my ‘Diary’ — by which I mean I posted it on Twitter…

I proceeded to do the usual transatlantic flight stuff, grazing on food, movies and music, while trying to sleep sitting up. Towards to end of the flight, this passenger appeared to be actively engaging her vocal chords in a ‘discussion’ with some other passengers. On landing this escalated into her displaying behaviour which belied being her as being somewhat ‘tired and emotional’. Some minutes after touchdown, two policemen boarded and it seemed that was the end of that.

I proceeded to deplane, head home and catch some welcome sleep, in the preferred horizontal position. On waking, my phone and Twitter stream were full of messages from journalists, looking for the ‘scoop’ on the ‘Rock-star Air-Rage’ story.
My tweet was quoted on numerous newspapers, online articles and over Irish national radio waves. I refrained from making a bad situation worse for Ms O’Riordan, so chose to pass on ‘dishing the dirt’ to the press folks about the incident. We all make mistakes, but those in the public eye, do so, in a very public manner. It later transpired that her marriage had just broken up and I wish her well in getting her life back on an even keel.

I’ve never done the ‘Dear Diary,’ thing, but over the past 4 years or so, I have recorded over 30,000 diary entries, in the form of Twitter posts. Committing thoughts to twitter is a bit like writing in a diary, except that all your “followers” may see them. On Twitter, I often forget that others are listening. I still feel a little embarrassed when I meet someone I don’t know, who says, ‘I follow you on Twitter’, my mental response to this is, “why would anyone want to do that?”

So why tweet, then?
Well, for me, it acts as a way of crystallising a thought or observation. The brevity imposed by twitter’s 140 character limit ensures that the essence of the idea is distilled, with little room for waffle. The other main social channels all have their pros and cons, but twitter is my social channel of choice. Facebook is useful for keeping in touch with family and friends, whereas Twitter enables us to discover things we weren’t previously aware of. I love its serendipity.
The format just feels right. There are multiple reasons for this. A key differentiator is the #hashtag’s ability to on-board us into a timeline with others, “around a virtual campfire”. This may be a topic, event or the live TV/Twitter combo, a particular favourite of mine
Twitter recently announced that it had hit 284 million active users and predicts total revenue of $1.3bn for 2014 — up from no revenue at all four years ago.
Twitter was however, far from an overnight-success, but rather evolved through many “wrong turns” and iterations before the Twitter bird landed “on the right perch”. , To get the full lowdown on the various founders’ multiple failures that culminated in Twitter’s eventual success, check out, “Hatching Twitter” -the eBook by@nickbilton . One ‘tipping point’, where Twitter really began to gain traction, was at the annual SXSW event in Austin, Texas in 2007, the year after it was first ‘hatched’. In the seven years since then, it has continued to flourish and though its subscriber numbers are still far from approaching those of Facebook, I believe it to be a far more exciting and dynamic platform.

Also, it’s no longer viewed as being a place where, “people just talk about what they had for breakfast”.
I never did figure out which Superhero mask Dolores was wearing …??

Networking Tips for Conferences

Getting the most from Conferences  & Musings on Networking


Research to find out who will be attending and check out their profiles on Linkedin. Also use your social networks of choice, to promote the event and your intention of attending. This will both encourage new attendees and help people to identify your profile and seek you out.

Don’t just stay with those you know – politely disengage and meet new people. It’s easy to mix with friends, but while new people will be more of a challenge, they will be more interesting.

Try to listen more than talk – We have 1 mouth but 2 ears – use accordingly. Don’t be a predatory networker – hoovering up business cards and dealing yours out like a Vegas croupier!

Be Yourself –  be genuine, real and courteous, offer insights that you believe may help others. Often this gets reciprocated, but don’t expect anything in return, networking is a marathon, not a sprint.

Speak in a ‘language’ others understand. Don’t bore people with becoming overly expansive about what your work entails. Most people simply need to get an idea of what your skills are. Too much industry talk can sound like a foreign language to most people outside your own vertical.

Follow-Up. This is commonly a missed opportunity, we invest much time and energy in networking, but often fail to do that most important part, the follow up. Don’t banish those business cards to your desk drawer, but use the contact details to connect on Linkedin, email or phone to arrange to meet up over a coffee.

Don’t just network, connect. In his excellent book, ‘The Tipping Point’, Malcolm Gladwell identified a particular type of networker. Connectors possess an innate skill of identifying people who may be able to help each other. Networking can just be a means to an end. But connecting is about using a genuine love of meeting people and making friends to engage and assist one another.

Have Clear Objectives or who you want to meet and how they might help you. Ask how you can help others. It is surprising how often people don’t have a clear answer to this. Be clear what your own answer to this question will be.

‘Position yourself as the person of influence, the one who knows the movers and shakers. People will response to that, and you’ll soon become what you project‘ – Ben Burg

Musings on what Networking IS… and is NOT

Networking is NOT about the giving or receiving of business cards. We all have lots of business cards that we never did anything with.

Networking IS about thinking how you can help people when you meet them. Think how you benefit when others do likewise.

Networking is NOT about closing-the-deal. But is about patience and relationship building.

Networking IS often about circling back and cultivating existing relationships. It is not always about cold-calling new people.

Networking is NOT about hiding-your-light-under-a-bushel. To succeed in this world (and in business) we need to be known to people.

Networking IS about ‘Paying It Forward’.

Do all human impulses really need to be about, what’s- in-it-for-me?

The above is part of an article that appeared in IrishCentral on 14th October, 2014, in relation to the Annual Global IIBN OpportUnity Conference in New York in November 2014, however these principles apply to any confernece.

See also: My Top 10 Tips for Effective Networking

Pat Carroll, Founder of Touch  online marketing, is an IIBN Board Member.

Five years ago, my career path took a turn which lead me into the global Irish networking space. Through this process of growing an Irish social network, I learnt the skills and value of online networking mainly via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. In the process of launching the network, on-the-ground in London and New York, I began to fully appreciate the real value that is achieved when online and face-to-face networkings are combined. In the process of promoting this network globally, I had the good fortune to connect with many interesting people in Irish Embassies/Consulates, cultural groups and business networks.

One business network that really impressed me, with its vision, welcome and the calibre of the membership was the IIBN. I am honoured to be a part of the Ireland board of the premier Irish International Business Network as we grow globally in both size and stature.

Getting Your Message Across

How Email gets you heard above the social chatter

Recently I got a hand-written thank-you note in my letterbox.  It made me feel like we did as kids, when we received birthday cards. It felt good that the sender had taken the trouble to personally message me through this medium. Much like a hand-written note, a well constructed email campaign is personal and direct. Regardless of our views about email, most of us start the working day by checking our inbox. So, giving brands permission to deliver directly into your inbox, by opting-in to their email campaign, is a valuable indicator that you want to hear their message, (be it a special offer, newsletter or even a reminder to pay our tax.) However, in order to maximise open rates and minimise unsubscribers, this message must be relevant and timely.

While so much attention is paid to all the shinny social channels, the most proven route for businesses and marketers to digitally reach your target audience is by email. Effective digital marketing blends the various social channels with email to achieve the desired results.   Each of the main social networks have unique ways to help you grow subscribers and promote your email campaigns.

  • An email sign-up App on Facebook is a great way to grow your subscribers.
  • LinkedIn email templates, for connections, are a novel way to grow your subscribers.
  • Twitter Cards can act as a great lead generation tool to grow your subscribers

These are some of the reasons I advise clients that using an email platform is a great way to be heard above the social noise and reach your target audience in a personalised manner.  The medium through which we deliver our messaging really matters. .. though nothing beats sending a hand-written note.