Six Simple Steps That Will Help Build your Connections on LinkedIn
by Frances Sardone
For the past eight years I have been helping people going through career transition. In today’s world, a major component of that process is effectively managing your personal LinkedIn profile and developing a strategy for how to utilize it. After someone has updated their profile, I always assign the same homework – start connecting! Your contacts are your network, and your network goes beyond helping you find your next role, it is your key to everything in business.
What I decided early on, was to assign this homework in the form of a dare. To many, connecting with others on social media seems like a daunting assignment. Therefore, daring – or even double-dog daring – them to engage in this ‘online business handshake’ is required to provide the motivation they need. However, clicking the button to connect is simple. The tricky part is deciding who you are going to connect with, especially when you’re feeling a little tentative about the ‘whole social media thing’.
For those that no longer have access to their workplace Outlook contacts, I am going to dare you to data mine your existing contacts on LinkedIn. Why? Because there’s no need to try recalling names from memory and it’s a terrific way to ease into networking meetings with people you already know and like.
Here are the steps for how to do it: (Keep in mind, this advice is based on the latest LinkedIn interface. Don’t blink or it might change again!)
From the LinkedIn navigation bar, select My Network – Connections.
Select someone who you’ve worked with in the past (it doesn’t have to be recent). After their Profile pops up, look for their number of connections. This is a link. Go ahead and click on the number.
Now you should see some people with a label next to their name that reads ‘2nd’. These are your 2nd level connections. In a nutshell, this means that you are not connected to them directly, but instead, through another connection you currently have. These potential connections provide an excellent networking opportunity, so now is the time to take my dare and connect through that social media business handshake I mentioned earlier.
You will likely recognize some of the people labeled 2nd. They may be people you’ve worked with, done business with, etc. Go ahead and connect with them too!
To do so, click on ‘Connect’ and you’ll see a template: Invite “name goes here” to connect on LinkedIn. At this point, you can craft a personalized note. This note can be as simple as “Hi Fran: I was taking a few minutes to update my LinkedIn contacts and spotted your name. Would you like to connect?” Or, if you know this person well, you’ll craft a suitably more personal note.
I forgot to mention the best part of this dare. You’ll do this daily for a week while treating yourself to your favourite cuppa tea, café corretto, glass of wine or beer – time of day permitting!
Go ahead and give this a try. How many connections did you start with? How many connections do you have after a week – or whatever term of time you picked?
I dare you. No, I double-dog dare you to share your results!