It’s not who you know, but what you do about it.

To paraphrase Metcalfe’s Law, the value of a network is proportional to the number of connections. That may be true in a technical sense, but in the world of social networking there’s more to it than that. It’s not who you know, but what you do about it. I call that Ellis’s Law of Networking, not because I invented it but because I never want to forget it.

What good is a network of connections—friends, business acquaintances, professional contacts—if you don’t have anything to do with them? Consider the social networks of which you’re a member and ask yourself, why am I here? What is my contribution?

As with most things, quality is more important than quantity. Getting the most out of any network is not about how many connections you have, but how you connect with them. The best prescription I know for getting the most out of life—and out of networks—is to give more than you expect to get. Ask yourself, how do you contribute to your networks? How do you make them better for having you as a member? How do you make yourself better by being a member?

As social networks go, LinkedIn is unique. It’s not about baby pictures or where you ate dinner last night. LinkedIn is about what you have to offer the world. It’s about how you want to be known by your peers, your employers, your colleagues, and the people you would most like to influence. But most of all, LinkedIn is about growth. To get where you want to go in life, what do you need to learn, and from whom? More importantly, how can what you know benefit others on their personal journeys?

LinkedIn is about more than simply connecting with people. It’s about interacting with them. It’s about giving help and asking for help. It’s about learning and teaching. It’s about following persons of influence and becoming a person of influence. It’s about growing and helping others to grow. It’s about giving and receiving. LinkedIn, in its essence, is about your development and your contribution.

But where do you begin? There is so much buzz these days about LinkedIn as an indispensable daily resource that it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the possibilities. If you want to make more of LinkedIn, to improve your profile, grow and interact with your network, enhance your professional credentials, search the enormous wealth of quality content available to you on LinkedIn, or simply increase your contribution to others, where do you begin?

Not surprisingly, there are some excellent resources on LinkedIn itself. One of my favorites is their Help Center.

Another favorite resource, naturally, is Lynda’s training on LinkedIn can help you focus on how to get and how to give the most on LinkedIn. Check out these courses and see for yourself :

Up and Running with LinkedIn

LinkedIn for Business

Social Selling with LinkedIn

And while you’re discovering the riches of professional networking, keep in mind the principle at the heart of it all:

It’s not who you know, but what you do about it.


Keith Ellis is a bestselling author and elearning evangelist. He is the author of the thriller NO SECRETS, as well as THE MAGIC LAMP, the classic book about goal setting for people who hate setting goals, He serves as Head of Federal Sales for

 (Copyright 2015, by Keith Ellis)

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