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LinkedIn for beginners: 9 tips for growing your network

Posted by Faye on October 24, 2011 in The Social Networks |

You’ve already created your profile and added some apps to enhance your profile. Now it’s time to connect with people and build your network.

A networking event every day

I like to think of LinkedIn as one giant online networking event where you’re interacting with your connections every day. In a future post I’ll provide some tips on how to do just that. But you need to build your network first.

Reasons to build and grow your LinkedIn network

  • You want to build an audience with whom to share your expertise.
  • Just like face-to-face networking, having a network offers an opportunity to meet new people….which could turn into…
  • …Potential business prospects, clients, or potential employers.

 9 Tips for growing your network

Start building your network with people you already know — friends, colleagues, business associates, and others.

  1. Connect with people you meet offline. Meetups, networking events, professional meetings, trade shows, or any other face-to-face events are all opportunities to meet people. After the initial small talk, ask them if they’re on LinkedIn and suggest connecting there.
  2. LinkedIn People Search. Use the People Search to locate colleagues, former classmates, friends, and other business associates. The advanced search lets you use filters such as geography, industry, and school.

    LinkedIn People Search (Click for larger view)

  3. After connecting with someone, mine his/her connections to see if there’s anyone you might know and invite them to connect.
  4. When you send an invitation, don’t use the canned “I’d like to add you to my professional network” invitation that LinkedIn provides. Personalize it in your own words.

    Personalize your invitation! (Click for larger view)

  5. After getting an invitation to connect from someone, always thank them. I not only thank people for inviting me to connect, but sometimes I ask if they’d like to meet for coffee, especially if I don’t know them very well.
  6. Ask for an introduction. This is a great way to meet new people through mutual connections. To see how to do this you can watch a tutorial here.
  7. Use the “People you may know” feature. LinkedIn provides three suggestions of people who are your 2nd-degree connections in the upper-right box on your home page. Refresh the page and three new people will appear.
  8. Use the “Add Connections” feature to find people from your email address book, school, or companies you worked for; and invite them to connect.

    Add connections (click for larger view)

  9. Check out LinkedIn’s new Classmates feature. LinkedIn recently launched this to make it easier for you to find classmates from the schools you attended or graduated from.

Connect with people you know

Although there are some LinkedIn experts who believe you should connect with everyone, I usually connect with people I’ve already met. If someone whom I’ve never met invites me to connect (and we have several connections in common), I’ll connect and extend an invitation for coffee. I like to get to know my connections! In my next post, I’ll talk about groups and how they can be a way to extend your network.

What are some techniques you use to build your network in addition to the list above? Do you connect with people you’ve never met? Why or why not?

 

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3 Comments

  • I can vouch for 1,2,3,4 and 7. The point about thanking them is a good one, and after reading that I had one of those “of course” slap-your-forehead moments.

    The bigger challenge is to provide something of value to those who do connect with you. Lately I have been thinking about the fact that once connected, there needs to be a way to keep the connection valuable, otherwise they are just someone to get you over 50, or 100, or whatever. This can be hard to do for some who you’ve met only briefly. I am thinking of just sending an email to five a week just saying “anything I can do to help you?” or something.

  • Faye says:

    Hey David, thanks so much for your comments. At the end of the day, LinkedIn is just another way to communicate with your professional network. Think about why you’re connecting with people. Are you looking for new business? A possible career move? Or perhaps just networking opportunities?

    Funny you mentioned providing value. My next post (which I hope to get out in the next few weeks) will be about doing just that — providing value to the people you’re connecting with. Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  • […] a footnote to my previous post about expanding your LinkedIn network, I’d like to show you a little-known tool that LinkedIn […]

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