Creating a standout LinkedIn Profile
Step 7 – Grow your Connections
So now we have an amazing looking profile, with a great headline, a catchy summary, a model-like photo and an article which is screaming to be read by your network…now we need connections.
Connections are effectively an endorsement of your professional capability, so it is important to build your connection count.
There are debates however about how promiscuous you should be over your connection strategy.
Some argue the more the better whereas others suggest only connecting with people you know.
I would suggest there should be a balance.
If I were to view a profile and see that someone only had a handful of connections, it would raise some questions for me.
But what is an acceptable number?
Well as far as LinkedIn is concerned – 500 is the magic number as they don’t show how many connections you have beyond this number. (NB: Screenshot 500 connections on LinkedIn)
Other theories suggest you should aim for 10 times as many connections as your age.
I think there is some logic here and quite a nice guideline.
The important thing to remember though, is there’s literally is no point accepting every connection request you may get if the connection will add no value to you.
Yes, from a perception perspective the number is relevant, but the true value only comes from those people who can make a difference to your work and careers.
To manage your connections effectively, it should become part of your daily tasks.
To view your connection invitations, go to the My Network menu on your LinkedIn homepage and your invitations will be listed at the top.
You can either Accept or Ignore the invitation.
If you choose to Ignore – the invitee does not get alerted to this so do not feel obliged to accept if you don’ feel the connection will add value to your work or career.
LinkedIn also makes suggestions about other people you may know and might like to connect with.
I’d recommend reviewing the suggestions regularly and connecting as appropriate.
There are some obvious people you can choose to connect with for example a current or former colleague.
Even someone you would like to work with perhaps to collaborate on a project together.
Recruiters are obviously worthwhile connecting with too – well only one Recruiter and you know where I am!
Then you can branch a little wider so someone you met at a networking event – by the end of the session, I’d love for each of you to connect, this is an ideal opportunity for you all.
And then you can move on to people you admire if you have read an article or piece of work they have completed. This is a super reason to connect.
And lastly, connecting with someone in the same LinkedIn group as you are another great reason to connect with them.
So how do you go about connecting with them?
Like in any ‘live’ situation, making connections can be hard, particularly with those people you don’t know directly, and some will find this easier than others.
LinkedIn tries to facilitate this through the default message “Hi, I’d like to add you to my network”
BUT please don’t ever use this.
If you are forced to use this message, it probably means you don’t have a legitimate reason to connect with that person.
Your message can be fully customizable so you should take advantage of this.
Taking the time to explain your relationship to the person and explaining why you want to connect can have a huge difference in determining whether they accept the invitation or not.
Some people out there, me included, simply won’t accept any generic request.
There must be a genuine, valid reason else it can look like you are just on a mission to up your connection count.
With only 300 characters to play with though, it is important to plan what you want to say and structure your message carefully.
Every message needs an introduction, a middle and an end.
Personalise the Invitation (Introduction)
Firstly, I would ensure the message is addressed to them specifically and more importantly, make sure you spell their name correctly.
If you get this wrong, your invitation will be dead in the water before you’ve even started.
Reason to Connect (Middle)
Secondly, you need to quickly get to the point of why you want to connect with them.
If you start with some long-winded opener about who you are and your background, you will have lost their interest.
The focus needs to be on them. Why you want to connect. Who you know in common. Where you met…whatever the reason, find that common ground and get to the point quickly.
Next Steps (End)
The last step is to let them know exactly what it is you would like to do moving forward to further the relationship.
Do you want to meet with them for a coffee to discuss work? Schedule a call? Just simply connect?
Whatever it is, give them a clear idea of exactly what you want.
Finally, one last tip here is to maybe use Praise or a Positive Comment wherever you can.
Not to the point of looking desperate or even slightly strange (!) but something that might reference their strengths or experience, background, etc, even a compliment about the company they work for or some recent work they have completed.
Everyone loves a little flattery now and then and this will go a long way to ensuring you get a successful outcome from your connection request.