Among the many social networking options available, LinkedIn stands out as the top choice for job seekers and professionals. The website is specifically designed to foster business networking, which makes it the perfect place to develop your professional connections. However, having a few thousand or few hundred LinkedIn connections will not necessarily help your career; it is much better to have a number of meaningful connections than a massive amount of useless ones.
What is a Meaningful LinkedIn Connection?
A meaningful connection is one that creates value for both parties involved. These connections can easily blossom into lifelong relationships, however, for a meaningful connection to list, it must be a two-way street. If you are the only one getting something out of the connection, why would the other person stay connected?
Since LinkedIn is entirely about business networking, a meaningful LinkedIn connection is likely to bring professional value on some level. It may mean helping you to find that perfect job, giving you advice and mentorship to enhance your career, or giving you access to potential clients.
Finding the Right Person to Connect With
If you have spent any amount of time on LinkedIn, you have no doubt received invitations to connect from people you do not know, many of whom just use the default LinkedIn request to connect. These requests generally come from people who adopt the ‘shotgun’ approach to networking, building as many connections as they possibly can – regardless of whether a certain connection is likely to provide value or not.
Network with People You Know on LinkedIn
Rather than adopting the ‘shotgun’ approach, try to focus on quality over quantity. An excellent place to begin building connections is with the people you already know. LinkedIn offers numerous tools to help you find and connect with particular people: You can import a list of email contacts, browse through the ‘people you may know’ section or just enter the person’s name into the search bar on the homepage.
Network with People from Groups
Joining relevant LinkedIn groups is an additional good way to meet people and create meaningful connections. You can search for groups by keyword or name by using the search bar and LinkedIn will also recommend groups that it believes will be an ideal fit for you. LinkedIn’s list of recommended groups is in the Groups option from the Work menu; you can bring it up by clicking on the Discover link.
Sending LinkedIn Invitations
Generally, every LinkedIn invitation you make will be to someone you already have some kind of connection with. It could be a colleague, someone you met at a marketing event or tradeshow, or even a friend of another friend – just ensure that you mention the connection in your LinkedIn invitation. It is best not to presume that the person you are connecting with will immediately remember you because a conversation that was deeply meaningful to you may have not had the exact same impact on them.
Building the Relationship on LinkedIn
- Offer a Favour
Asking a near-stranger to do you a favour is unlikely to give them a good first impression of you. Rather, you should take the opposite approach: offer to do something for your new connection as soon as possible in the relationship. If you can slide a favour offer into the connection invitation yourself, that is great. By showing the other person that you can be of value right away, you will encourage them to not only connect with you but also to put the effort and time in that it takes to create an ongoing relationship. Your favour does not have to be a big deal. Starting off small is generally best because offering to do a massive favour for a distant acquaintance can make that person feel uncomfortable.
- Ask for Help
So, you have made some meaningful connections on LinkedIn and are ready to reach out! But, how can you ask for help in the right way that will get the desired results? Be thoughtful in your approachable, lay out your objectives clearly and always express gratitude for any assistance.
- How to Respond to LinkedIn Invites
Often you will not be the one initiating the connecting request. Rather, if you are active on the platform, you can expect to be inundated with requests. In a majority of cases, it makes sense to accept every connection invitation, even if it is just a generic request to connect. After all, if the connection turns out to be a meaningless one or they begin spamming you with requests, you can always remove them from your connections. When you receive an invitation, it is always an excellent idea to take a look at the person’s profile. LinkedIn profiles will generally contain just the information you need to find out how to run a connection into a meaningful one.
Building a network of meaningful connections on LinkedIn unquestionably takes more effort and time than simply inviting random strangers to connect. However, the rewards you can reap from your efforts are well worth the cost and can help to push you towards your ultimate career goals.