A while ago I read a great blog about LinkedIn connection strategies called Are You a LION, Turtle, Hound Dog, or Alley Cat? What’s Your LinkedIn Strategy? The author presented four basic connection strategies. 1) The LION (LinkedIn Open Networker), who connects with everyone and everything without much thought behind the connections; 2) The Turtle, which is the opposite of the LION and only connects with those he/she already knows and trusts; 3) The Hound Dog, who connects to those he/she already knows and those he/she would like to know, and accepts connections only from those thought to be beneficial; and 4) The Alley Cat, who connects to those already known and those he/she would like to know (like the Hound Dog) but accepts connections from anyone. Of course the conclusion was to use what is best for you personally. This got me to thinking about the next step, how do people engage their network after they connect with others.
When it comes to a comprehensive networking strategy the “Holy Trinity” is Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Many people now integrate these three (and more) and are losing the distinction between social and professional networking.
For some this is an intentional and directed networking strategy to present a unified professional online presence. For others social and professional interactions are fiercely guarded as separate. I’ve observed that strategies of engagement (as opposed to strategies of connecting) fall into line with the four basic LinkedIn connection categories given above (probably no coincidence). Here I detail and name what I believe are the four corresponding engagement strategies.
This is the person who shoots at everything that moves without particularly taking time to aim. The goal is sheer activity, quantity over quality, making as much noise as possible in order to get noticed. You’ve seen the person that posts 10-20 times a day, is always quoting others, posts links to popular articles, and tweets minute by minute updates all day.
The Shotgun is similar to the LION approach in believing that blanket coverage and constant activity draws attention which can be turned into opportunity. What I’ve noticed most about the Shotgun is that there is very little original content (usually none), very little engagement with others, and he/she very rarely comments on or pays attention to others. Usually he/she has a public Facebook profile with little or no personal interactions. The Shotgun simultaneously tweets and posts to all media with one click. This strategy is all about volume and being a big producer of superficial content.
This is the individual who carefully protects personal information. The Sniper posts, blogs, and tweets only original content targeted to a very specific person or group. This is analogous to the LinkedIn Turtle. For this person, LinkedIn and Facebook are totally separate- Facebook is private for family and friends, and LinkedIn is all business.
This Sniper stresses quality over quantity and is likely a very infrequent poster. The Sniper is much more likely to actively engage others when he/she does post. When this person speaks, it is specifically designed to get a response or to begin a conversation. This strategy is all about picking the right moment and expressing the right thought to the right person.
The next two categories lie between the Shotgun and the Sniper and are well suited to both Hound Dogs and Alley Cats but each leans in a particular direction.
The Gun Fighter
This person blends personal and business with a bent toward the personal side. The Gun Fighter is very engaging at “close range.” This means the closer you are personally, the more likely he/she is to interact with you. The Gun Fighter is likely to have business contacts on his/her Facebook profile but only those who are trusted. He/she is likely to follow people on Twitter that are purely personal as well as following business contacts.
The Gun Fighter is more likely to be passionate, controversial, and employ a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach. Political correctness is not a priority. Generating meaningful content, including making strong personal statements are the mark of this type, without conscious thought to quality and quantity. The Gun Fighter engages as he/she feels necessary and says what he/she feels is necessary. It is likely for the Gun Fighter to naturally produce both above average quality and quantity, but is also likely for there to be a few controversial posts and pictures. Alley Cats probably lean toward this strategy.
This person blends personal and business but very carefully and methodically with a bent toward the business side. The Rifleman aims carefully, targets his/her audience, and engages contacts in discussion with precision. This type differs from the Gun Fighter in that he/she is more likely to target a wide audience with blogs, tweets, and posts, and will engage long distance targets (i.e. participate in discussions with people they only casually know).
The Rifleman may also have professional contacts on his/her Facebook profile but probably only those that are also friends with personal history. This type is likely to expose his/her personal side through Twitter follows and followers but only those that are also professionally acceptable. The Rifleman is cool and calculating, and quality and quantity are carefully controlled for balance. Hound Dogs seem suited to this approach.
Like the LinkedIn connection strategies, the engagement strategy that is right for you is the one the one that naturally works best for you. Personally, I tend to believe the Hound Dog and Alley Cat LinkedIn strategies along with the Rifleman and the Gun Fighter engagement approaches are probably the most effective for most people. To me the LION/Shotgun is too watered down and I doubt most people will take you seriously. The Turtle/Sniper approach seems too difficult to make it pay since you’d have to be a “perfect shot” every time. As with most things, the “best” usually lies between the two extremes.
What are you?
As for me personally, I’ve languished as a Turtle/Sniper but I aspire to Alley Cat/Gun Fighter. Which strategies do you employ? Do you think about it or just do what comes naturally?