Did you know that many of today’s job postings list “having more than 250 LinkedIn connections” as a qualification for an ideal candidate? This is especially true in business development, social media management or fundraising positions. And, not surprisingly, more and more employers believe that having a robust professional network connotes success and an ability to connect with others.
So, now you're probably thinking "How can I figure out how to expand my network on LinkedIn?" One thing you can start doing immediately is using the LinkedIn “request to connect” feature as your follow-up or thank you note. I do this usually within 48 hours of meeting or speaking with someone (new or from the past) and always, always, always personalize the message. I first remind them how we became acquainted:
“It was great to meet and chat with you at lunch today, and I really appreciate you explaining the difference between a first-person shooter game and a massively multiplayer online game.”
Then I suggest that we stay connected via LinkedIn:
“I’d really like to keep in touch, so let’s use LinkedIn to stay connected.”
Another way to grow and strengthen your LinkedIn professional network is via the “Get introduced through a connection” option, but tread carefully. Only about 50 percent of requests for intros to connections are actually forwarded and/or responded to.
If someone suspects the requested introduction might be purely sales oriented, they will often contact their connection first with a link to the public profile of the person who requested the intro. They do this to determine whether the connection would welcome an introduction and to demonstrate that they value and will protect the connection they have. About half of the time the connection will decline the introduction and offer thanks for asking them first.
Keep this in mind when you reach out to your network and always be sincere and transparent about your motives for wanting to connect within LinkedIn.
Author Bio: Sandy Jones-Kaminski is a self-described networking enthusiast and the author of "I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???" She’s been an executive in the HR industry and was recently the VP of Networking for one of the largest chapters of a national professional development and trade association. Sandy shares her professional insights on personal branding and effective networking via webinars, one-on-one coaching, workshops and by facilitating in-person networking events called Pay It Forward Parties. You can connect with her via her website at http://www.belladomain.com or via firstname.lastname@example.org or 415.613.8508.
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