LinkedIn is a social network for the business community. Founded in 2003, the website is a place for professionals to connect with past and current colleagues, increase their number of business connections, network within their industry, discuss business ideas, search for jobs and look for new hires, just to name some of the notable aspects.
LinkedIn currently has more than 500 million members in 200 countries with around 260 million logging in each month and over 40% are active daily. LinkedIn members include executives from all of the 2017 Fortune 500 companies, and its corporate hiring solutions are used by 92 of the Fortune 100 companies. In recent years LinkedIn’s mobile app has yielded 63 million weekly active users on a very wide variety of mobile app platforms.
Important thing to remember is that LinkedIn is a social networking for professionals and everyone who’s signed up understands this. You should be aware of this any time you are looking to network because it should encourage you to bravely reach out to anyone and ask for a connection, an endorsement, introduction and even recommendations. Remember, whomever you reach out to, they are on LinkedIn to network as well, and whatever you ask them to do for you, you can and should offer the same thing in return.
CONNECT OFTEN – Increasing network size is imperative for increasing the reach of your message to your audience. Furthermore, a larger network is a great way to gather information from your partners as well as competition. This is why I suggest connecting frequently.
Whenever you have a positive interaction with another company, a potential client, a new acquaintance, industry connected mutual friend, or someone you met at a networking event, reach out to them for a connection and even recommendation, and always offer one in return.
HANDLING INVITATIONS AND CONNECTION REQUESTS – One of my favorite things to do when networking on LinkedIn is to make the most out of the initial contact with my future connections. I do this by going an extra step when dealing with connection requests and invitations to connect, and I accomplish this by always writing a personalized message along with the invitation request or my acceptance of the connection request.
While I have read quite a bit about how much difference it makes to always accompany or follow up networking actions with a personalized message, seeing the effect of it in my own networking time and time again has made me a real evangelist of the idea. In essence this seems very simple. Write a personalized message EVERY TIME you are connecting with someone and reap the benefits of going the extra step and standing out from the crowd. On the surface this sounds like a very simple process but it has its own pitfalls. I will be discussing these issues and how to counter them in future articles in this series.
We are all on LinkedIn with a different intent and it stands to reason that you will receive connection requests in which you are not interested. These could be from people you do not know and seem to have nothing in common with you and they can be declined, but often you will receive connections from acquaintances and friends whom you simply do not want as a part of your professional network because they do not operate in the same industry as you. In this case I recommend either of the two following options:
You can send a personalized message to your potential connection and explain to them that you are here for business purposes only and that you have to politely DECLINE their request.
Or you can accept their request but put them on IGNORE that way you will not see their posts on your News Feed. Should you choose this route, I also suggest following up with a polite message explaining your actions.
ENGAGE WITH THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE – I will cover the basics of content interaction on LinkedIn such as sharing/commenting/posting in great detail in future issues. However, one thing that can be done in a short amount of time and still yields a great amount of brand visibility and goodwill, is engaging with the community at large. This means taking a few minutes of your time while on LinkedIn to like, share, and comment on posts created by those outside of your network as well as those on the fringe of your network.
PROMOTE YOUR CONNECTIONS – Not all of networking happens in the News Feed. Instead, using personal accounts to do a couple of simple but very positive and effective things can have a major impact on how you are viewed and promoted on LinkedIn by your peers, audiences, and connections. Passing connections along (playing a LinkedIn matchmaker) is another very effective way of building up trust and looking very good in the eyes of your audience. This is done by going through your current connections list and suggesting people for connections with other people. In LinkedIn terminology this is known as making INTRODUCTIONS.
ENDORSING profile skills is another excellent way to earn the trust and goodwill of our connections, but also be seen as something of an expert and an authority on certain skills. Endorsements take up a bit more time because you have to go to a personal profile page, then find the skills section, and then scroll through the skills endorsing those you think your connections have expertise in.
Article Co-Authored by: Bradley Broussard