Networking – it seems to be the word of the decade.
Before you’ve even dipped your toes into professional waters, you’ve probably been told how important it is to make connections and have a vast network of people around you.
Easier said than done, right?
You started a business, or you got a job at a firm. But your professional network is very scarce.
So, where do you start?
How do you get your name out there, and how do you get people to want to work with you?
With the rise of online professional networks, the possibility of connecting with your peers has significantly risen, but there is still nuance.
In this article, we’re going to give you all of the necessary information to help you build your professional network of people, but especially how to build your LinkedIn connections to maximize your effectiveness and success.
The Significance of Understanding LinkedIn Connections
Before we get into the meat of the article, we want to ensure you know why LinkedIn connections are so valuable.
There are a few things we need to cover:
- How to broaden the valuable connection pool?
- How to make that pool a quality one?
- How to balance the quality-quantity issue?
Now, as far as getting other people to see you, there are a few options:
- Send Connection Requests: The easiest and the most obvious tip, but mighty effective.
- Utilize the “Search” option: You can make this option even better by filtering your searches. You can narrow down the results that come out by searching for people who work in a specific industry, company, or profession.
- Don’t miss out on LinkedIn Events: Event attendees have a unique opportunity to mingle and connect in an organized way, which is a huge plus. Not only that, but you get exposed to a larger group of people, and additionally, there are always such events going on.
- Get into some LinkedIn Groups: Group members can chat with other users and share ideas in a space that specifically gathers like-minded people.
Finding more focused spaces for people with the same professional level and goal is definitely the way to go.
This way, you’re coming into contact with more people, but you’ve filtered them to suit your interests.
And there’s your balance!
Data-Driven Insights That Support Real-Life Examples
This all seems great on paper, but how does it translate into real life?
Well, IBM, one of the biggest tech companies, serves as a great example.
In 2012, they topped LinkedIn rankings with 1.8 million interactions! Since then, they’ve continued using the tried and true model of marketing, and they have increased their follower count to 2.5 million.
Aside from that, they’ve curated an account that shares both stories from around the web, as well as their own original content.
That’s not all, though.
We’re all familiar with Coca-Cola.
Well, Coca-Cola maintains a LinkedIn following of 129,000 users and regularly shares company updates, similar to IBM’s approach. The engagement on their posts is robust, with numerous comments, likes, and shares.
Their latest post highlighted their efforts to assist Hurricane Sandy victims. The platform also hosts user-generated content that garners substantial interaction.
See, even the biggest companies in the world believe in the power of networking.
The Basics of LinkedIn Connections
By now, you understand how important LinkedIn connections are.
But what are they, really? Are they like Instagram followers, like Facebook friends, like YouTube subscribers, or is it something completely different?
Well, it’s kind of like a mix with some added, original features. When you connect with someone, you will be able to see their posts on your main feed and get notifications when they post.
Connections are divided into three degrees: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree connections.
- First-degree connections on LinkedIn are those you’ve made directly (one of you accepted the other one’s connection request). You can contact them via direct message on LinkedIn.
- Second-degree connections are connections of your first-degree connections. You can contact these connections through InMail or an Introduction.
- Third-degree connections are connected to you through your second-degree connections, and you can contact them the same way.
For all three types, you will see an icon next to the person’s profile indicating the degree of connection.
Building Your First Connections
We’ve touched a bit on this previously.
First of all, you need to find LinkedIn members you know in real life who are in the same industry and send them Connection Requests.
These should be people who are reputable and respected in their field of work.
The next thing you should do is go through the 2nd-degree connections that you’ve gained and connect with the people whose credentials align with what you’re looking for in potential business partners and/or colleagues.
Now that you’ve made the first connections, you can branch out using the search options and using filters to narrow down the results.
Personalizing Connection Requests
It’s not just about sending a Connection Request like you would a friend request on Facebook. To ensure that your request is accepted, you should add a personalized message to it.
This message shouldn’t be a novel about your professional hopes and dreams.
Instead, it should give a nice introduction to you and your work. Basically, it should explain what you do and why you want to connect with the person in question.
This will make you stand out in a sea of other requests and incentivize the person to accept your request and start a conversation with you.
Managing and Organizing Connections
LinkedIn connections can easily get overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of them, and LinkedIn knows that.
That’s why they have developed great features to help you stay organized. Here are some of them:
- Tags: Tags are a great way to categorize your contacts according to your preferences so that you have an easier time finding them and, for example, notifying them of your upcoming business ventures or events.
- Disconnect from inactive contacts: It may not be the most obvious, but it’s definitely very helpful. Inactive contacts create unnecessary clutter in your connections folder and therefore make it difficult to find the connections you need. Declutter and disconnect and see for yourself.
- Notes: By using notes, you’ll ensure that you don’t miss important dates, events, meetings, etc. This way, your LinkedIn profile page will not only be organized but also productive.
Imagine finding qualified leads, initiating conversations with a personalized touch, and effortlessly pitching your offer.
It’s all possible with AimFox. Whether it’s prospects, customers, or future team members, our tool’s capabilities will guide you toward meaningful connections.
Let’s say you’ve built a decent LinkedIn network, you have a lot of connections, and you’re feeling good about it. But there’s still the ubiquitous debate – quality or quantity?
Much like in other segments of life, quality wins when it comes to LinkedIn connections. It’s relatively easy to connect with a large number of people – you can randomly add them just to achieve a high number.
But are those connections really serving a purpose?
One of the best strategies to follow when networking is making high-quality connections with respected people in your field of work who will be good colleagues or business partners in the future. One valuable person can mean more than a hundred mediocre ones.
Tip of the day: Choose wisely!
Engaging with Your Connections
Just connecting with someone isn’t enough, though. Your job doesn’t end there. You have to maintain and nurture these connections.
Beware neither to under nor overdo it.
Engaging with people from your existing network as a LinkedIn member is a crucial aspect of creating a good business network. You need to show support for other people’s work, engage in discussions, express your opinions, and let other people know what you’re up to.
You can do this either publically, by liking or commenting on your peer’s posts, or you can directly message them for a more personal approach.
However, whatever you do, don’t overdo it!
It’s easy to tell when someone is forcing a connection, as it comes off as contrived and disingenuous.
Leveraging Connections for Job Opportunities
LinkedIn isn’t only for businesses or those looking for partnerships. It’s also for those that are looking for a job.
So with that in mind, let’s see how you can utilize LinkedIn to build a personal brand.
First of all, you need to optimize your profile and make it stand out. This means adding a good, professional profile picture, including a headline and a summary, adding experience and references, etc.
Moreover, you need to look at your profile as a resume. This is what a majority of recruiters will be looking at when searching for potential candidates. Your LinkedIn account needs to look professional but also stand out amongst a sea of other accounts.
Make it personal and informative but also concise and to the point.
Building a Company Network
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have those looking for employees – companies. However, it may not be employees that your company is looking for. It may be partners, clients, or industry peers. Whatever it is, your company’s profile needs to look pristine.
You need to explain what your company does, how long it has been around, and some notable projects it has been part of. Also, there should be a few bits of information about the values that the company stands for, what it strives to achieve, as well as something about the kind of work environment that is maintained within the company.
It’s not only recruiters assessing the potential employees, it’s also the other way around. It’s about more than just work – it’s about interpersonal relationships, values, and aspirations within a company that will attract people.
Handling Unwanted or Irrelevant Connections
Every now and again, you’ll get a connection that you don’t want to accept, or that is simply irrelevant for you at the moment. If there aren’t too many of those, you can manually remove them and move on.
However, with bigger profiles that have a lot of connections, these occurrences are much more common.
So, what do you do in this case?
First off, you need to be more selective about who you add and accept into your LinkedIn network. If you just accept anyone, more and more random connections will pop up.
If you’ve already connected with someone you no longer wish to be connected with, you can remove them from your contacts.
This will also help with keeping your profile more organized and clutter-free.
Monitoring Connection Analytics
Alright, you’ve decided to follow all of the newly discovered advice, and now, you’re curious about the progress you’re making with it.
We get it – progress is what we’re all after.
LinkedIn actually allows you to extract data from your profile that you can later sort through, organize, and analyze to get optimal results.
You will get an Excel table with the information which you can edit by adding more columns to personalize it.
Furthermore, you can use Excell Pivot and Charts to create various distributions. This way, you can make different charts that will display different aspects of your progress on LinkedIn but also analyze your connections according to positions, genders, ages, and so on.
All in all, LinkedIn takes this matter seriously and is all about giving you the necessary tools to grow your business, revolve professionally, and make valuable connections along the way.
We’ve covered some of the salient aspects of growing your network on LinkedIn that will help you reach new connections that are meaningful. Now, let’s have a brief rundown of the most important bits of information.
LinkedIn connections are a great way to grow and expand your business, connect with peers, find a job, get new clients, and so much more. You can meet like-minded people in the same field of work, make valuable friendships, and form professional relationships that will benefit you in the future.
Make sure your profile is organized and professional, that you are choosing your connections wisely, and that you are utilizing all of the fantastic features LinkedIn has to offer.
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