Add Connections Frequently, But Thoughtfully
The more people you’re connected to, the more of their connections you will be linked to, and the more people you can potentially influence. But it takes time to keep up with each person in your network. Be sure to evaluate why you want to connect with a person before adding them: Will the connection be useful?
Don’t use the standard LinkedIn invitation to connect. Click “Personalize your invitation” so you can add your own message. Add a friendly greeting to a former colleague or a reminder of how you met to a new acquaintance.
Protect Your Personal Brand
While some people send a LinkedIn invite to everyone whose business card they pick up or even to connections that they’ve never even met, it’s not a good idea. Be as judicious about adding or accepting LinkedIn connections as you would be if you were interacting with them in person.
When someone is in your LinkedIn network, it implies that you have a relationship with them. It is a reflection (however minor) on your personal brand.
If you get asked about one of your connections, and you can’t vouch for them, it implies that you don’t value your relationships or your good name highly.
How to Find New Connections
LinkedIn makes it really easy to add connections, because it constantly suggests people from your address book who are on LinkedIn. However, be careful about accessing your address book – it is easy to unintentionally send invitations to your entire address book, which can upset recipients and lead to awkward connections.
LinkedIn reports when new people from the workplaces or colleges in your profile have joined, which is another reason to fill out as much of your profile as possible.
You can also find people with similar interests by going to the search box with the word “People” next to it in the top right side of the menu bar. Type in one or more terms (e.g. nonprofit capacity building Boston) and you’ll get a list of people who match that description. You can see what groups they belong to and whether you share any connections, and take it from there.
It’s a good idea to try to get up to at least 50 connections right after you set up your profile, but don’t stop there! Set a goal for how many connections you want to add each week; 5 to 10 is a good number. If it doesn’t happen naturally, set aside a specific day of the week to send out invitations.
You can also use Advanced Search to find new people to connect with by specific characteristics (job title, keywords, location, company). You can save your people searches and sign up to get regular updates from LinkedIn listing people who meet those criteria.
"Connect" with Your Connections
Contact new connections while they are still warm. You are more likely to build a relationship if you’re still fresh in your connection’s mind. Send a personal update, forward a link to a good article, or invite them for coffee.
Analyze your connections and your connections’ connections to look for common interests and needs.
Look at which groups your connections belong to. If they appear to be worth your while, join groups that the people you want to reach belong to.
Identify Specific Individuals with Whom You Want to Build a Relationship
Look at their questions and comments to see if you have compatible interests. If there’s a way you can help them with a resource or introduction, offer assistance.
To sort (filter) your connections:
- Click on your “My connections” tab, and you can sort them by a number of characteristics: tags (e.g. classmates, colleagues, friends, etc.), companies, locations, industries or recent activity.
Stay In Touch
Now that you've built up strong connections, be sure to keep in contact—forwarding articles they may find interesting, or updating your status message—and let your network thrive.
LinkedIn provides many ways to share information or participate in conversations, which we will go over in next month in Joining the Conversation.