Do You Need to Fear Your Connections Stealing Your Customers?
There are a lot of networking wannabees that are worried about competitors stealing their customers. They allow this fear to keep them from inviting or accepting connections and friends. Their belief is that by not inviting or not accepting they will prevent competitors from stealing their customers.
I understand what they are saying and where they are coming from; but is this really a legitimate concern or are they doing more harm to themselves than good? The reality is that being a networking wannabee with a few connections makes you more susceptible than if you had a large number of connections.
This may sound ridiculous, but let me explain. Whether you are on LinkedIn, Facebook, or any other Social Network, as far as I know, your connections do not have the ability to directly or indirectly search or sort your connections. This means that someone wanting to search your connections or friends list must go through your connections one-by-one looking for possible customers.
A Large Network Makes Searching Time Consuming and Virtually Impossible
If you have just a few connections, this would be an easy task; if you have a large number of connections this would be a very labor intensive process. To me, this says that the larger your network the more protected you are.
Currently I have over 800 connections on LinkedIn, for someone to identify one of my customers would be a lot of work and I do not know anyone that would have the time to undertake that effort. I doubt that your connections would have the necessary time or inclination to undertake that type of task either. A large network can should include Network White Noise.
Creating Network White Noise
What is Network White Noise? This is a new term that I have coined and is the process of building lots of people into your network individuals that may or may not have an immediate networking value. Some of the people that you can add to create Network White Noise include family members, friends, former classmates, former teachers and professors, and others without a current business connection.
I call these connections Network White Noise because if someone is searching through your connections or friends list; these individuals will not have the value the searcher desires. Adding these people is one of the best things you can do to rapidly add Network White Noise to your network and therefore hide your clients and customers.
One of the best ways to continue your networking efforts, while still protecting the identify of your clients and customers is to create Network White Noise. Are you inviting friends, family, former teachers and professors, and other non-business related connections? If not, then why not start now?