It’s not easy to add connections on LinkedIn anymore. Everyone wants to protect their network – and with good reason. Many of us have been spammed by companies and sales professionals with a hard-sell approach. Decision makers and influencers realize that most of the people trying to connect with them are also looking to get something from them.
According to social selling expert Jill Rowley, “Your network is your net worth.” I believe that she is 100% correct. That’s why my LinkedIn network has grown over 30% in the last three months. What’s with the big increase? It’s simple. Three months ago, I made a decision to try to add three new connections every day… a number which has now turned up to ten.
Through trial and error, I’ve found some effective ways to get connected, and I’ve uncovered some best practices for what not to do. Let me share them with you so you can learn from my experiences and grow your own professional networks. Remember, it’s crucial to be super respectful and genuine in how you connect with people. It’s also extremely important to time exactly when you connect with them. (Don’t be the hard-sell spamming connector! Especially now, since I’m inviting you all to connect with me on LinkedIn.)
Okay, now let’s take a look at seven ways to connect with people and build your LinkedIn network. In the following examples, I’ve used my colleagues here at Act-On to protect the identities of external members of my network. (Don’t worry, I got their permission first.) Notice a common thread throughout these invitations: I’m always looking for a commonality between us. That’s because you should always make all your invites personal. Don’t have the time? Then don’t waste your time – and their time – sending generic invitations.
1. When You Set an Appointment
As soon as you set an appointment, have a conversation trying to set an appointment, or get into any scenario that involves the word “appointment,” let the person know you are sending an invitation to connect. This is LinkedIn Connecting 101, but I know many sales professionals who don’t this. Here’s an example of how I send the appointment.
2. When Someone Views Your Profile
I’m a social media addict. I probably never go more than two minutes without checking LinkedIn (pathetic, I know). You might not be the same, but it’s always good to see who’s looking at your profile periodically. I don’t add every Dick and Sally who looks at me, but if they add value to my network, I send an invite like this.
3. When Someone Adds You on Twitter
This is only for my Twitter peeps, but I just started doing this recently, and I’ve made some of my best connections with influencers. Once I see a connection made on Twitter and we have a little engagement, I go to LinkedIn and get connected. I’ve found that influencers are more likely to connect on Twitter than LinkedIn. Get the connection into their network while you are top of mind.
4. After Reading a LinkedIn Publish
This is my absolute favorite. It’s a great opportunity to start connecting with decision makers and actually get them to accept. For example, if I see a CMO post an article about email marketing, I immediately like the post and then engage with it, tagging their name. Next, I go to their profile and connect with a message like this.
5. You Get a Follower from Your Publish
This is the old “read and run” scenario. Once I publish an article, I will get some decision makers who hit the follow button but don’t add me on LinkedIn. Nope! You can’t just read and run on me, because LinkedIn lets me know you were there. I don’t do this a lot, but if I see the right people following me when that alert hits, I’m connecting like this.
The bread and butter of my success is referrals. (Of course, I would hope that all sales professionals work off referrals, but that’s for another blog post another time.) As soon as I get permission from my referral partner, I go straight to LinkedIn and make the connection. I’m doing this before I even send the email or make the call. No need to share an example for this one. You all know how it’s done, but we all just need to make a habit of doing it.
7. Any Event, Tradeshow, or Networking Activity
I was lucky enough to attend Dreamforce this year, and I can tell you that I made 132 LinkedIn connections in 48 hours. Get rid of those stupid business cards and pull out your smartphone. I was sipping on a cocktail at Ruby Skye for the DocuSign party, adding people left and right into my LinkedIn network. Let’s just say that with a business card, I tended to forget who anyone was. (And I think I lost the few cards I did collect.) The best part about connecting on LinkedIn is that after a few cocktails, it does all the remembering for you!
Whenever possible, it’s always a good idea to make it personal, memorable, and especially if it’s appropriate, have a little fun with it.
Now it’s Your Turn
Okay, it’s time to start connecting and growing that LinkedIn network! I hope these tips have helped. Be sure to leave some feedback in the comments, since I’m a big believer that #SharingIsCaring! (Oh, and give me a little Twitter love if you can find it in your heart: @JackKosakowski1).
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