3 tips to make the best use of LinkedIn as a connection builder

For many professionals, LinkedIn is a kind of CV they update and improve the moment they think about a next career step. However, LinkedIn can be much more than that, even in its free version.

  • A rich platform for information
  • A showcase of expertise
  • A job board
  • A service provider locator
  • A connection builder

In this post, I write about building connections, because it’s the aspect of LinkedIn that many people tend to most misused with the related risk to contribute to downgrade the efficiency of LinkedIn as a powerful social platform.

I have selected 3 tips:

1- Always add a personal note to invitations

In real life, what do you do when you receive an advertisement in your letterbox which does not seem to have any link with you nor with your needs? You just though it away, don’t you? That’s the same for LinkedIn invitations, if they fail to explicitly demonstrate why they are addressed to you and what’s their purpose in relation to who you are, they will remain non-answered or will be deleted.

 The more people send empty invitations, the less the invitations get a chance to motivate an answer.

Think about your LinkedIn invitations as any other mean to connect to someone in real life. During an event, you wouldn’t go and through your business cards under the eye of people you never talked to. Would you?

You would take the time to explain why you are interested to know that person, who you are and would create some space for the discovery of what you could do together.

This is the same for a LinkedIn invitation: Remember the -Why, Who, What– approach which could be illustrated by the following example:

“ I discovered your LinkedIn posts thought one of my connections, I really like what you write. Like you I am also very much interested in sustainable energy and would appreciate to be in touch and to follow your publications on LinkedIn. Looking forward to reading you, Kind regards.”

2- Treat the received invitations as you would do in real life

There’s a lot to read about LinkedIn etiquette online but to make it short and easy to understand, there’s nothing different in connecting to people on LinkedIn than in connecting to people in real life. It only takes to be personable, respectful and authentic.

If you want your LinkedIn connections to be a real network, do not accept all invitations which you receive.

There are opposite trends amongst LinkedIn experts, from aiming to the largest possible network (LION strategy: LinkedIn Open Networker) to the most restricted one including only colleagues and friends.

The approach I recommend is more moderated, yet easy to adapt to your personality and sensibility: Good key questions to decide to connect or not could be: “Would I feel comfortable to help that person if she/he would ask me for help? and “Would I feel okay reaching to this person for help or advise if needed?”

Obviously when you receive an invitation from someone you do not know and which common ground with you is not obvious, you are enable to answer these questions. Therefore you need to ask for more info before you can validate the invitation.

Imagine you receive a phone call of someone you don’t know asking you for an appointment without any additional explanation, what would you like to ask this person before deciding to accept the invitation or not: “do we know each other?”  or “Thanks for your kind invitation, can you tell me what would be your expectation so that I can prepare myself?” or “ Thanks for reaching to me, May I asked how you heard about me?” etc.

Without knowing a little bit about the intention and about who is the person, you are not likely to accept any invitation. Same goes for LinkedIn. Just ask them and then decide if yes or no you will accept to connect.

3- Nurture your connections

Of course you cannot daily interact with your LinkedIn 500+ connections but that’s important to dedicate a bit of time to the relationship with your network.

Again, that’s very similar to what you do with your real life acquaintances: Even to people you do not see much anymore, don’t you try to send them a Birthday message, a happy new year mail, etc. Maybe not to all, maybe not each year but still, that’s very likely an effort you make time to time.

Same on LinkedIn, when coming across an interesting article, a job ad, a new connection, you can think about one or the other of your connections and share with him/her.

People tend to think there’s LinkedIn’s and there are real connections. Most use LinkedIn as a way to stay in touch with “real” connections.  This is probably a very powerful feature of LinkedIn indeed but LinkedIn offers more.  It happens often to me that I first discover someone with whom I share some interests on LinkedIn and that I then meet and connect in real life. This would not have been possible if I and these people would not have treated LinkedIn connections with a personable, respectful and authentic manner.

You are familiar to the approach I have detailed in this blog? Maybe you can give me a tip in return then? When you have asked people for the reason for their invitation to connect and they simply answered that their only intention is to increase numerically their network, what do you do?

Read as well: Make LinkedIn a powerful resource for your job search

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes.