Building your network of connections is vital to make LinkedIn work for you and your business. It’s not really always about what you know but also who know. Your connections are the people that you know directly on LinkedIn; people you have invited to your network or who have invited you to join their network. In either case they aren’t an official connection until they have accepted your invitation or vice versa. In your overall LinkedIn network you have 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections.

How to Get in Touch

There are primarily three different ways to get in touch with people on LinkedIn:

  • Send Invitations – You can send an invite to anyone whose email address you know.
  • Make Introductions – Introductions can be sent through a direct connection of yours to anyone else in your network.  The connection receives the request for an introduction and they can then choose to forward that introduction for you, or not.
  • InMail Feature – InMail is LinkedIn’s internal, premium email system that lets you reach out to anybody on LinkedIn directly. It is a paid service and requires a premium membership to LinkedIn.

Whenever you contact someone on LinkedIn, it’s very important that you make your message as personal as you can. LinkedIn provides a premade message but it sounds canned and unprofessional – and is very impersonal. Take a little time to write your own message, say hello, and mention where or how you might know the person if there might be any confusion. This way you can avoid having your message ignored or written off as SPAM.

Searching for Connections

There are a few different ways that you can search for connections on LinkedIn. First is simply to upload your email address and let LinkedIn search and send out those requests automatically. This is a very convenient and can save a lot of time, but it is much better to send out a personalized message. You will have a much better chance of having your request accepted.  You can also get penalized if somebody clicks on the box that says they don’t know you.
Another way you can find people that you know is to look at people in your network.  Find out who your connections know and see if there’s anyone who might know you.

Some members on LinkedIn who are LIONs – ‘LinkedIn Open Networkers.’  LIONs usually connect to anyone who sends them an invitation.  They’ll usually have the phrase ‘LION’ in their profile so you can find them by searching.  Connecting to LIONs is a good way to grow your network, but try to find individuals who you actually have something in common with.  There is no point in growing your network for the sheer number of people on your list, and it can make your experience much less effective.

Let Them Come to You

If you are an active LinkedIn user, people will find you.   Check that your privacy settings allow them to discover your profile.  Participate in common groups, update your profile with fresh content often and use LinkedIn Answers to become an active user.  LinkedIn groups are especially good for growing your network because you have a chance to communicate directly with so many similar professionals.  If you do this, people will be able to find you, and your network will grow naturally.

If you have any other questions about LinkedIn or social media just contact us and we would love to help you.  We always get our clients setup on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook free of charge with all website projects.