If you’re looking to make important business connections, LinkedIn is the premier social media platform to use. You’ll find recruiters using LinkedIn to find job candidates; CEOs looking to grow their influence and build trust with buyers; and solo-preneurs looking for freelancers to build their dream team. In the world of business relationships, you just never know who you’ll meet that will possibly send you your most lucrative client, so growing your network steadily and consistently makes good business sense.
However, if you think blasting LinkedIn users with connection requests is the way to go, put the brakes on your plans and rethink your strategy. Here’s some well-researched advice:
1. Nobody likes a spammer. Logging in to your dashboard and sending out a blast of connection requests is not a good use of your time. And if you think blasting your current connections with your latest product, service, or event will make you instant friends, think again. These are typical forms of spamming which will lose you connections instead of gaining them.
2. Don’t use people just for introductions. When someone accepts your connection, get to know that person and their company before asking for introductions to others in their network. People are very protective of their networks and will pick and choose whom they allow access. If they refer you to their connection, and that introduction or meeting doesn’t go well, then THEIR reputation is at stake. Building relationships goes two ways for this exact reason.
3. Remember the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. Follow your simple common sense: If you don’t want to be bombarded with connection requests and product offers or offers to join teams and you don’t know the person asking, why would you do those same things to others? Connect with others who have a common interest or whose companies compliment yours. A personalized connection request makes a big difference, too.
4. Allow time to build relationships and to build your network. Your network will NOT grow overnight, especially if you use spam tactics to connect with people. Think of networking as the “planting of seeds,” where you certainly talk about what you do and who you are but in a natural, organic, and authentic way instead of in sales mode. Over time your connections will remember what you do and if they like your style, they will readily refer people to you; but they need to know you better and that takes time.
5. Provide value to others. One way to showcase your expertise to your LinkedIn connections is to share consistently. Write articles, participate in groups, ask questions, and share about your mission and why it’s important to you. Educate your followers about what you do or the problems you can solve. Done consistently, this type of sharing will keep you in people’s minds and you just never know when they will be ready to hire you or send you a referral.
Networking on LinkedIn really boils down to common sense: Act professionally so you portray your business in the best possible light and be authentic in your interactions. Your ideal clients will be drawn to you once they get to know you as a person instead of as a salesperson.