Linked In Profile steps – making Linked In Contacts.
“Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity and time.” Alan Collins, author of Unwritten HR Rules
I’m sure, like me, you’ve received a LinkedIn request. They are often from someone you either:
a) don’t remember
b) don’t know at all
c) know, but have no intention of staying connected with in any capacity, professional or personal
If you, like me, tend to ignore these requests. You probably already know that a strong chain is better to build than a weak one.
Contacts in your network are classified by LinkedIn as 1st, 2nd or 3rd connections.
- 1st connections – those you are linked with directly via an invitation.
- 2nd connections – those with whom you share mutual connections (ie, you and another profile are 1st connections with the same individual).
- 3rd connections – those whose extended network connections you share.
Twitter, Facebook and other social networks allow you to “follow” others and connect with them. Whether you know the individual personally or not. In fact, these social platforms encourage networking with strangers. But LinkedIn is different. It discourages its members from connecting with those they haven’t met in real life. In fact, if you haphazardly try making contacts on LinkedIn too often, your account will be temporarily restricted.
So, LinkedIn was built for you to create a strong chain of connection.
According to Tina Hay at Direct Marketing Solutions, a good way to build a weak chain is by jumping in for a sale. “My pet hate is people sending a connection request quickly followed by a ‘this is what I do’ copy-and-paste formula. It’s so impersonal.”
But what if you’re browsing your field, and you come across a profile that wows you? You want to contact the professional and perhaps seek advice or simply, network.
“Be choosy,” Hay suggests. “Being picky about who you let into your network will speak volumes. Don’t be afraid to say no to requests and at the same time, don’t be afraid to approach people you admire, know or would like to connect with.”
How important is making contacts and growing your network?
According to Hay, it’s very important. “From an educational perspective, there is so much to learn from the ever-changing world of business. My networks include experts in their own chosen fields, and that adds a lot of value.”
Another reason is that more contacts grant you more business. “My business is built on referrals, recommendations and word of mouth,” Hay says. “If I do a good job for a client, they send more people my way. The bigger my networks, the bigger the opportunities.”
Likewise, you can refer your LinkedIn contacts to other clients, providing a give and take. Hay does this as well. “I love having people I can refer to clients for areas that we don’t cover. It’s great getting referrals but it’s even nicer being able to reciprocate the favour!”
While the rules of making contacts on LinkedIn are in place for you to reach out to those you do know, sometimes you can build strong links with people you’ve never met. There’s an art to making contacts, but it’s an art worth mastering, because many professionals on LinkedIn can add value to your network and share their expertise with you…and hopefully you can reciprocate.
Top 10 Quick Tips to Reaching Out to Strangers & Making Contacts on LinkedIn
Establish a great LinkedIn profile that stands out.
First off, when you’re contacting people, they’ll scan your profile before they respond or accept you as a contact. So, your profile can make or break your networking. If you offer them a professional and compelling profile, they’ll like what they see, and they’ll want to connect. If they click only to find an unflattering, badly lit LinkedIn profile photo, and a 50% completed CV, boring and full of errors, they won’t give you the time of day.
“Bare-bones profiles indicate people who do only the minimum required,” says Mark Amtower, self-proclaimed ‘LinkedIn black belt.’ “You need to strive to be a subject matter expert in your chosen niche if you are going to truly stand out.” For more advice on creating a headline that puts you in that league of true standouts, read our article “LinkedIn Profile, Part 2 – Writing a Professional Headline.”2. Join Groups in Your Industry
“Get involved,” Hay suggests, “be social on social media. It’s about getting to know these people and using social media as your ‘online networking tool’.” You can do this by becoming a member of LinkedIn groups.
Search for groups in your industry to join. Then be sure to contribute real advice to others in that group, often acknowledging others’ advice and also posing intelligent questions to show that you’re always trying to improve. Don’t market yourself, add value to the conversation, and others will become interested in making contact with you.
“Ask questions, be interested,” Hay adds. “I feel that those that are ‘in it for themselves’ come through in group discussions, emails and conversations.”
Be Active in Q & A
Another area of the website where you can show your skill is in the Questions and Answers section of LinkedIn. “Most of the 500-plus connections I have on LinkedIn were requested by the other party. They came as the result of my responding to queries in the ‘Answers’ feature or through my volunteer work as a SCORE and Micro Mentor adviser on federal government contracting,” says Kenneth Larson. “The manner in which a response is worded conveys personal expression, opinion, and insight to others who may wish to team, counter with a disagreement or pass on your reference to others; all healthy forms of communication.”
After establishing yourself in LinkedIn’s many platforms, you can now start making contacts. Seek out those who’ve connected with you in these platforms and see if they’d like to be linked in. And do this through a personal invitation. Shooting the “form letter” provided by LinkedIn to dozens of contacts is not at all flattering. If you’re not even willing to spend a moment providing some compelling reasons for the contact to connect with you, then you’ll inevitably be rejected. Without communicating how you can add value to the relationship, you’re indicating you’re only seeking the value of their connection and contacts.
Thank Those Who Accept
“When someone accepts your invitation, send them a thank you message,” Amtower suggests. “This simple act separates you from other LinkedIn members.” Present yourself in the best fashion by thanking those who’ve connected with you. It’s just another way to stand out from the pack.
Ask for Introductions from new Links
Another route to connecting with people you want to know in your industry is to ask a first connection contact to introduce you. You’ll know that one of your contacts is linked to someone you’re interested in by seeing a “2” or “3” beside the POI’s name. There’s even a link specifically designed to be introduced – “get introduced through a connection.” Click on it and shoot a message to your first connection contact to request an introduction.
Endorse Colleagues and Get Endorsed
By providing colleagues, clients or contacts with endorsements, you’re demonstrating that you value the individual’s skillset, service and expertise. While receiving endorsements shouldn’t be your end-game, providing articulate (and honest) endorsements of others may benefit you two-fold: 1) others may be persuaded to reciprocate, and 2) endorsing others shows anyone who lands on your page that you appreciate your contacts and praise their work.
Vet Your Recommendations
Recommendations differ from endorsements in that they are shown on both parties’ profiles; therefore, if you’ve been offered a personal reference from someone who is less than stellar, it links you to them. This means another’s poor reputation may cast you in shadow as well. This is why you should never ask for a personal recommendation from a contact you don’t have any relationship with; and vice versa, don’t vouch for someone you don’t know.
Keep Connection Contact Information Private
Sharing contact information without permission – email, phone number, skype – is a big no-no. Also, do not shoot a group message to many recipients. This will share the email address information of everyone in the group, perhaps prompting unwanted emails. If you do, make sure to deselect the “Allow recipients to see each other’s names and email addresses” option.
Become an Open Networker
If you’re not well-connected and wish to explode your network quickly, you likely don’t care whether or not you personally know potential contacts. When this is the case, consider joining a LinkedIn Open Networkers (LION) group by searching them in the main LinkedIn menu bar. This will allow you to open network with hoards of members, while charming the pants off of anyone and everyone.