Blame it on my 4,200 LinkedIn contacts. Yes, I know that’s excessive, and if I’ve ever intruded on your business day with an unsolicited connection request, I apologize. But there’s a need to network, whether it’s with partners, potential vendors, your peers, or, most importantly, your customers, no matter what type job function you have.
Look me up on LinkedIn and, depending on your own level of activity, I bet we have at least one connection in common. Our common connection could be a former coworker, a guy you went to college with back in the day, or even your mom. Mothers want to network too, you know. If we don’t have at least one connection in common, then I’m not doing my job well enough.
As an early adopter of LinkedIn, that is, before it became the networker’s paradise, I diligently worked to connect with as many folks as I thought would want to connect with me. Hundreds didn’t, and I’m okay with that. The thousands who did are a blessing.
Now, when I counsel professionals on making their LinkedIn profile better, making connections is always an important part of that discussion. Here are a few tips I share with them:
LIONs and Realtors and Marketers, Oh My!
If you come across a potential connection on LinkedIn with the acronym “LION” on his or her profile, feel free to request that connection. LION stands for LinkedIn Open Networker, and LION-designated people are seeking connections from anyone and everyone. They will always accept your request. But, depending on what industry you are in, there are some folks to steer clear of on LinkedIn, LION or not. I’ll probably only buy a handful of houses in my lifetime, but based on the aggressive nature of realtors on LinkedIn, you’d think I buy a new home every week.
To Good Use
As a marketer myself, I can tell you that I try to provide a service to my online connections. My LinkedIn status feed is packed with white papers, webinars, blog posts, videos, and the like, geared to help IT students on their path. Ultimately, I want to sell a class, but the free resources are always there to help the students out, whether they purchase training or not. If there’s a benefit to having you as a contact, they’ll come streaming in.
Not to sound sexist, but most ladies are a little more leery of an unsolicited LinkedIn connection, with good reason: there are some sketchy folks out there. After all, LinkedIn allows users to share their birth date, marital status, phone number, street address, and even if they enjoy walks on the beach. I’m all for sharing, but that’s a little much.
By The Numbers
Have you ever come across that perfect LinkedIn profile of a person you would just love to count as one of your connections? I’m a fan of Cisco Systems, so luckily I boast among my LinkedIn connections Cisco SVP Carlos Dominguez. I’m still waiting on Cisco CEO John Chambers and CTO Padmasree Warrior to join up. Carlos had over 500 LinkedIn connections so I figured he wasn’t overly selective. I was right. When you find that perfect profile you want to connect with, take a look at how many connections they have. If it’s fewer than 100, I’d pass, unless you are close to that person. If you are just starting to expand your LinkedIn connections, make sure you first invite coworkers, friends, and schoolmates to connect. The more you connect, the more potential connections you are one step closer to connecting with on LinkedIn.