LinkedIn can be an intimidating social network to use. Once you create your profile, you have access to millions of highly successful people working at some of the premier companies around the world.
It can feel like a daunting task to create an engaging profile that leads others to want to connect. I’m here to tell you that although growing your LinkedIn connections can seem difficult at first, it is much easier than you think, and you are fully capable of doing so.
Similar to other social networks, LinkedIn is focused on building relationships, called connections. LinkedIn has established that having 500 connections or more establishes you as a networker and influencer on their site.
While 500+ connections are great, it?s important to note that these need to be quality connections. Don?t connect with just anyone to reach that number. LinkedIn is not a place to rack up friends like you once did on MySpace. LinkedIn is a place for you to connect with other professionals who you can establish a business relationship with to help one another. Additionally, it is a place to reconnect with past colleagues, current co-workers and prospective clients.
How to Grow Your Connections
Before you connect with anyone on LinkedIn, make sure you?ve created a quality profile including a picture, headline, summary and work experience. People will want to view your profile when you ask them to connect and if there is nothing to see, or worse it?s not compelling, chances are they?ll be less likely to engage with you. People want to know who you are and your profile is the place to establish your personal brand. Your profile can be a work in progress but it?s important to have some information complete before you start connecting.
At the top on the LinkedIn homepage, there is a drop down box that says My Network. Under this drop down, you have the option to select: Connections, Add Contacts, People Your May Know and Find Alumni. My first suggestion is to go to Add Contacts. This will then take you to a page that allows you to link your email account to your LinkedIn. LinkedIn then prompts you to send a simple email to your email contacts already on LinkedIn, asking them to connect.
Once you connect with someone, you categorize that individual with a tag. My suggestion is to categorize based on who that person is to you. This way, you can send targeted messages to your connections. For example, if someone is a prospect, you will communicate differently with them than if they are a client. So be sure to segment your connections based on where they are a prospect, a referral source, a PR opportunity, investor, client, or even just friend.
This is a great way to organize your connections and send targeted messages.
Send Personalized Messages
When you find someone you want to connect with on LinkedIn, tell them why. LinkedIn has a generic message they will send when you want to connect but you have the option to personalize this message.
Always personalize the message and tell the person why you want to connect. For example, if you want to buy their products or services or you feel they could help you with a potential project, tell them that when you?re asking them to connect. Additionally, when someone sends you a request to connect, ask them why they want to connect.
LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to share articles and insights with your connections. If you want to grow your connections, it?s important to stand out and post quality articles.
You want to post articles that will intrigue your audience and your network. When you post an article that resonates with people, they are more likely to share the article with their network of connections. From there, you can receive several connection requests all because you posted quality material.
Posting good articles and insights not only helps you gain quality connections, it adds value to your network and builds your credibility and trust with your connections. People buy from those they know, like and trust, and content is a great way to build that.
If you don?t have your own article to share, skim LinkedIn Pulse to find an article to share. LinkedIn Pulse is a compilation of relevant and thriving articles. These are great articles to share with your own network of connections.
In addition to posting articles, post status updates. Just like other forms of social media, use LinkedIn status updates as place to add value, talk about your business and have a call to action. If you?re active on LinkedIn, you stay in the feeds of your connections and there is more opportunity for engagement. When people comment, share and like your content, it not only builds your credibility among your own connections, it creates social proof that you are an expert in your field.
Engage with Other People
LinkedIn is a wealth of knowledge and you?re one of many professionals sharing quality content. As important as it is to share content with your connections, it?s equally important to actively engage with other peoples? content. Whether it?s posts your connections are sharing or articles you find on Pulse, comment on and like the articles.
LinkedIn also allows you to tag people in a post or comment. If you see a great article, you can tag someone else you think would enjoy the article. Additionally, you can tag the author of the article and give them a compliment. This is a great way to target connections and prospects. If you take the time to look each day, you will never run out of insightful content to share or engage with on LinkedIn.
If you?ve followed the above tips and only engage with quality people, you should want to stay connected. LinkedIn will update you when one of your connections is celebrating a work anniversary, recently started a new job or has another career related milestone. Comment on these updates. When you do, everyone in their network sees your name and can click on your profile. This will lead to more profile views and connection requests just by staying connected.
LinkedIn Training Works
Growing your connections is only the first step in achieving business results using LinkedIn. Within the Amazing.com membership, I teach a course all about achieving your business goals with the networking power of LinkedIn.
Matt Clark is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, a serial entrepreneur, and investor. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Entrepreneur.com.