Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Butterfly or Bee?

December marks the three year anniversary when I decided to step it up and commit myself to actively engage on LinkedIn.  In a two part series, I would like to share my current thoughts regarding LinkedIn.  Part I: Are you a Butterfly or Bee?

Read On:
In the past, I have shared that there are two buckets into which LinkedIn networkers fall: situational or sustainable.  I consider myself the latter, a sustainable networker who values long-term people relationships.  Consequently I commit a considerable amount of energy to nurture these relationships on a continual basis.  Nurturing involves engagement.  On the other hand, situational networkers are driven by the “what’s in it for me” networking philosophy. They are looking for connections to either expand their personal or company’s network.  Situational networkers have bought a new definition to the word ephemeral.

As I close in on my three year anniversary I am now realizing LinkedIn is all about the butterflies and the bees.  Butterflies are the situational networkers who float around LinkedIn, float in and out of groups, occasionally posting, rarely engaging.  They are only looking to add a few more connections in order to broadcast the size of their professional network.  Butterflies are the people on LinkedIn that read a post on Six Ways to Increase Your Network on LinkedIn, maybe hit the like button or post a comment, then move on to try their hand at Pinterest after reading a new post titled How Pinterest Will Help You Find New Customers. 
Bees are the sustainable networkers who actively buzz around their LI groups on a regular basis to aggregate/share information so they can pollinate their network and grow their long-term people relationships.  They grow their community (a.k.a. hive), one individual (a.k.a. cell) at a time.

Butterfly or Bee?  Suggestion!  Spread the honey!


  1. Very true. I often marvel at the high profile individuals I discover have incomplete LinkedIn profiles and show almost no activity. Relationships are a journey, not a destination. One has to nurture them to fruition, not buy ripened ones from the shelf.

    Will your butterflies suddenly evolve into bees? No more than they would in nature.

  2. What if you're both? Focusing only on LinkedIn doesn't consider the 'multi-channel' relationship model. Oh, and time and priorities. I'm throwing up the white flag and calling uncle on some of these networks. There is only so much time in the day especially as a single parent of young boys.

    What I have been doing is more one-on-one relationship building not necessarily on LinkedIn which I know you would appreciate, right?

  3. Hi Jim,

    Unfortunately, many people on LinkedIn as well as other platforms haven't heard - 'it's about the people, stupid'.

    I've had people on LinkedIn reach out to connect only to start shilling their services. And other times, I've received invitations from people I've never met asking me to use my network to get them a job(!).

    Even through my website, I get so many obviously generic requests through my contact form for people to write for my blog, review and promote their company's latest product/service, etc.

    In every case, the focus is clearly on what they want from me and not on building a relationship that rewards us both in some fashion over time.

    I'm not sure if this will ever change as frankly all we're doing is shifting behaviours we've all experienced offline into the online arena. Besides, let's face it, they're clearly not putting a lot of time and effort into this so I'm sure they can't see the loss like those on the receiving end of their interactions.

  4. Happy LI anniversary to you Jimmy :-)
    I agree that Linked In has different types of users (the engaging ones and the more opportunistic ones) and just as in real life, establishing good personal relationships requires time. What is great, is that you can learn from other people by mutually sharing information. But, as Jackie says, careful not to get lost in time on LI, because there is only so little time in a day! Certainly for working moms :-)

  5. Lest we forget, butterflies and bees go through a metamorphosis of state to their final form. Interestingly, my 8th year LinkedIn anniversary was last October.

    Many describe this as a pyramid, or tiers of one's network. At the top: Close contacts you know well, and which you speak/interact regularly. In the middle: less close, but talk to once or more a year, and can rely on. At the bottom: known. but would have to generate some interaction to grow to the middle tier.

    Unlike the butterfly, that goes through a multi-state metamorphosis, only to die at the end. I see LinkedIn as a dynamic economy of connections that move up and down that pyramid. We all change our "form" as the dynamics of our life and career prescribe. I hold no one accountable for becoming distant if their needs put me lower in their pyramid, or needing me to be closer in their pyramid - I see that as opportunity.

    Funny thing is, one probably can't have butterflies, if you don't have bees, nor bees, if you don't have butterflies - in a healthy network ecosystem. A good network nurtures the connections that you may not know you need now, but may need later.

    Food for thought.

  6. Excellent comments. Received some more off line. Thank you all. Time for me to get online and spread some honey!

  7. Jim,

    It is fantastic to recognize someone else who tries to promote using LinkedIn for what I call "network nurturing." Though I do recognize that there are some transactional business models that are dependent on wide, vast networks, for most of us LinkedIn will be utilized most effectively as a tool that helps us not only grow but to engage and actively connect our network. I recorded a vlog about, which you'll see has prompted some to disagree with me/us.

  8. Jimmy,

    Here is a detailed blog on how to use Linkedin for profit. Note that it endorses your "bee" approach of constantly working.

  9. Great post! In the past I was getting so disappointed with LI and all the selling etc that I disengaged. I too value the information, networking and building long term connections. I saw this with Facebook as well and am now seeing it with Twitter and Pinterest. Lots of fake names and vague attempts at being the 'most popular' butterfly. Thank you for the reminder that is isn't about them, it's about me and what I put in I get out!
    On a side note Pinterest is a great site especially if you are in a visual field or sell product. It has inspired me to get back to my roots and incorporate my creativity with business.