Networking has moved online and LinkedIn is the tool that allows leading companies to broaden networks and make valuable connections with professionals around the world.
LinkedIn is social media specifically for businesses and professionals and is a non-intrusive way of staying in touch with business contacts.
An effective profile is one built on meaningful connections. If you’re willing to put in effort and share your expertise, you can reap the benefits of an extensive online network.
The stronger your LinkedIn network is, the more potential for you to reach the right people, increase your profile to your target markets and make business contacts that could be useful down the track.
How to build your network
There are a number of simple ways to build your network and connect with people through LinkedIn.
1. Import your contacts
You can import your business email contacts from Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo into LinkedIn to help broaden your network.
To do this:
- From your email platform save your contacts as a file on your desktop
- In LinkedIn, click the ‘Add Connections link
- Then click the ‘Import your Desktop Email Contacts’ link. LinkedIn will take you through the rest of the steps.
Once you have completed the process, go to the ‘Imported Contacts’ folder on the left side of your homepage of LinkedIn.
An icon will appear next to each person on the list who has a profile under that email address. You can then choose to link with them.
2. LinkedIn suggestions
LinkedIn will also help you make connections by suggesting who it thinks you should connect with.
LinkedIn ‘People you may know’ is located on the right-hand side of your home page and allows you to quickly scan users and send invitations to them to link with you.
3. Search terms
If you have met someone you want to connect with on LinkedIn, you can search for them using a number of different search terms; by name, company, school, geographic location, interest, keywords or industry.
This is helpful if you want to target people in a particular industry to connect with or if you’ve lost someone’s business card after a networking event.
4. Inform people
Let people know you’re on LinkedIn so they can link with you.
Do this by including a link to your profile on your email signature, putting it on your business card, posting it on other social media sites and telling people you meet to encourage them to connect with you.
5. Request an introduction
Your network is not just your immediate, or first degree, connections on LinkedIn. It also includes who your connections are connected to, known as ‘second-degree connections’.
If you want to link with someone who is a third-degree connection, you can click the ‘Get introduced through a connection’ link on the profile of the member you want to connect with.
LinkedIn will then show you a list of people you know who are connected to that person. If only one person can make the introduction, the ‘Request an Introduction’ page will appear.
Select one person from the list of connections available to make the introduction, and LinkedIn will then prompt you to send a message for your connection to introduce you to the person you want to link with.
Your message needs to be clear about why you’re asking for an introduction and why you believe your potential new connection will benefit from the relationship.
Try not to do this too often to the same person, as it requires some effort on their part to introduce you to the other person and you want to save it for people you really want to connect with.
This article is part of a two-part series. The next article will cover how to maximise your network to make your connections work for you.