In Part 2 of this series we looked at adding content to you LinkedIn profile and getting involved in LinkedIn Groups. We now look at the next stage of the process – building your network of connections. Naturally, the more people you connect with the wider the reach of the posts and updates you put on your profile, but there is a caveat here:
Quality is more important that quantity!
There are 2 ways of building your network, through individual connections and through LinkedIn groups. In this article we look at the first of these – individual connections and in the next and final article in the series we will look at developing connections through LinkedIn groups
As you start to use LinkedIn you may notice that once you get more than 500 connections with other LinkedIn users, your profile simply says 500+ connections. I’m afraid some people just see this as a badge of honour, a (somewhat arbitrary) target they strive to reach. I look at things a little different, the more selective you are in who you connect with, only linking to people where there is real synergy and a clear ‘fit’ between your own business activity and theirs has 2 significant benefits:
- So long as you ensure that the content you add to your LinkedIn profile is always pertinent and relevant, it is likely to strike a chord with your connections and so reinforce your relationship.
- A high quality, well qualified pool of connections is immensely valuable both as a business development resource and an information resource should you need advice or assistance.
Here are my top 7 tips for building connections on LinkedIn
1. Complete your profile and keep it up to date
LinkedIn helps you complete your profile . Use that help to build a compelling profile that really tells people about you and what you have to offer. A LinkedIn profile should be dynamic. Read over your profile regularly and check it says what you want and is up to date. Things happen in your business life every day. If you don’t add relevant developments to your profile, people can’t see them – and one of the first things that new connections will do is visit your profile!
2. Start with the people you already know
Start with clients and other contacts you know already. You can use the LinkedIn search, or alternatively just ask them if they are on LinkedIn and would they like to connect there.
3. Be diligent about adding connections
Consider everyone you meet through your business as a potential connection – but don’t connect with all of them! Ask yourself if you genuinely believe whether a connection could be MUTUALLY beneficial. If so then go ahead, but if not, maybe it is better to wait. Remember, LinkedIn is NOT about selling, either yourself or your products/services, it is about ENGAGEMENT and building relations over time.
4. I’d like to add you to my professional network. – NO!
Don’t use the generic LinkedIn invitation text: I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. You really want to connect with someone? Surely you can write a brief note asking them if they would like to connect and why you believe connecting makes sense for both of you. Using the generic text suggests you really aren’t that bothered – and maybe you are simply playing the numbers game. Not a good start to a professional business relationship.
5. Follow-up when your invitation is accepted
When a contact accepts your invitation, follow-up and thank them! After all, aren’t you trying to build a real network? If you have been selective in your invitations (see 3 above), hopefully there will be something you can talk about so use the opportunity of their acceptance to start the dialogue. You can’t guarantee they will respond but if you don’t show willing, why should they?
6. Engage with your connections
As well as getting notifications from LinkedIn when your connections add updates, depending on the information in a user’s profile, LinkedIn will also spread the word about events:
- Work anniversaries
- New jobs
These are just some of the notifications that LinkedIn can send (you can tune the details of what notifications are published about you in your profile settings) Even a simple ‘Congratulations’ reminds that you are out there and paying attention – though again, avoid using LinkedIn generic responses. There are also smartphone apps which push LinkedIn notifications direct to your phone which makes responding even easier.
7. Use Endorsements – carefully
Another feature of LinkedIn is endorsements – an opportunity to recognise skills in your connections. Everyone likes getting a pat on the back and endorsements are a great way of doing this. Although endorsing a contact is as simple as clicking a link my advice is to only endorse where you really believe in the endorsement. You don’t need to have direct experience of the skill from your connection but you should have confidence that they really do have that skill! Another word on endorsements – be altruistic. Endorse someone because you feel it is valid, not in expectation of reciprocation. As always, be professional, be honest and be realistic. I deliberately haven’t gone into a lot of detail on ‘How?’ in the above. My aim was to give you some ideas and food for thought. If you want more detail on the hows or more insight into using LinkedIn, as always feel free to get in touch. Alternatively, a web search on any of the above will turn up many pages of advice!