LinkedIn is the dominant social media networking site for professionals today. Here are some pointers on how to grow and develop your LinkedIn network.
Upload your address book
Many email systems enable all your contacts to be imported into your LinkedIn profile in a matter of minutes. You’re then advised if each contact has a LinkedIn account and given the option of connecting with them, inviting them to join LinkedIn, or letting the connection lapse.
From my own experience LinkedIn has a slow-building snowball effect. One connection from a former workplace leads to another and another and suddenly you find yourself connected with people that you thought were completely lost from your life.
Stay in touch with new contacts
Once I’ve met a person, I return to my office, enter their details into my contacts database, and send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.
I should add that I don’t automatically subscribe them to my newsletter, I simply send out a LinkedIn invitation. The benefits of doing this are that I can quickly scan their online profile, discover if they are connected with anyone I know, and enhance my understanding of them.
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Who else should I connect with?
It’s generally accepted that you connect with people on LinkedIn that you know and trust.
Personally, I may be on the fringe of acceptable LinkedIn behaviour, because I also actively link with identities that are of interest to me. For example, since I’m interested in small business I seek out connections with industry leaders and spokespeople who I may not know in a real world sense, but who are people I’d like to know and hear more from.
Should I accept LinkedIn requests from people I don’t know?
When Iggy Pintado, author of The Connected Generation, was asked if he would accept LinkedIn requests from people that he didn’t know, he replied:
I’m an open networker. This means that I welcome people who I haven’t met to invite me to connect with them on social networks.
This might sound corny but I do believe that some strangers are just friends I haven’t met yet. I also think that every connection you make is a potential social or business opportunity. With this in mind, I do scrutinise the invites I get to ensure that they aren’t spammers, terrorists, child molesters or just bad people. If they look like legitimate requests, I accept. If not, I don’t.
Once I connect with them, if they DO spam me, abuse the access to my network or behave inappropriately, I remove them instantly.
I probably lean towards Iggys’ philosophy, and consider myself an open networker, rather than a traditional ‘closed’ networker, who only connects with people they know.
Whether you’re an open or closed networker, LinkedIn will prove more and more valuable to your business as your network expands.
Has that been your experience too? Please share your tips for growing your LinkedIn network below.