Building Better LinkedIn Connections
All too often business owners will resist using LinkedIn to build relationships with prospects, make connections with vendors or partner with others. LinkedIn might seem like a place that’s good for uploading your resume and connecting with people you already know. But in reality it’s a place where you can make great connections that can help you further your career or grow your business.
Where You Can Find Connections
Once you have your profile filled out and have begun using LinkedIn, you are ready to start adding connections. LinkedIn provides a variety of ways to find and add new connections to your network. Once you find someone you want to connect, begin the process by sending them an invitation.
NOTE: Don’t use the standard connection request! You want to create valuable professional relationships. Instead, do some research on the person you want to connect with then send a customized connection request.
1. Your email contacts list is the easiest way to add new contacts. You’re automatically linked to your email account when you sign up on LinkedIn. LinkedIn searches your email account to find people in your email contact list that have the same email address of people who already have LinkedIn accounts. These will be first level contacts of family and friends.
2. Your work colleagues will be next. Find them by typing in the names of the different companies you worked at. You can also click on your profile and view the Company profile to see a list of people you know.
Connecting with colleagues validates your profile by validating that you actually worked for a particular company. It also gives other the opportunity to recommend and endorse you.
3. Friends of friends come from people you have connected with. When you connect with a new person, look at their connections to see if you might know some of them, but haven’t formally connected with them yet. Ask your existing connection if they might be willing to connect you to the ones you don’t know.
4. The Home tab tells you when someone you are connected to makes a new connection. If you already know this person, send them an invitation to connect with you. If you don’t know them, then ask to be introduced.
5. Search function. The LinkedIn search lets you search by name for people you’ve previously met, but have lost touch with. Or use it to search for people you know from your other social media accounts.
6. LinkedIn Groups let you join in discussions and interact with people in the group. Often, they are willing to become connections with you. If you can’t connect with them, you can always follow them. Be sure to connect with the group owner as well.
7. Advanced Search. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search to find target people and companies that complement your goals. Use search terms that include a particular skill, industry or company name. Set filters by the location, company size or even seniority, for a more distinct search.
8. Make a list of target companies and go directly to the company websites. Locate those you’d like to connect with. See if they are on LinkedIn, what groups they belong to on LinkedIn and then send them an invitation to connect.
Here are 8 more ways you can find connections by sending invitations:
1. Classmates and Alumni
2. Email recipients who have LinkedIn in their signature
3. LinkedIn’s suggested people you may know
4. Conference speakers and other attendees
5. New prospects
6. Professional or trade association colleagues
7. Bloggers you like and follow
8. Chamber of Commerce associates
Finding connections on LinkedIn begins with people you already know, like your family and friends. When building your network, try to make meaningful connections that can help you reach your goals, rather than just linking to anyone that has an account.