Connecting with Others on LinkedIn

Connecting with Others on LinkedIn

Think your Profile is 100% complete?

Think again.

According to LinkedIn’s search results, it’s not complete until you have built a strong network of:

– Ist degree connections
 — 2nddegree connections
 — 3rddegree connections
 — Group connections from active groups

And what is more, it rates the value of each connection based on how complete their profiles are.

In other words, make sure anyone you are about to request connection with has completed close to 100% of their profiles.

The biggest mistake you could ever make on LinkedIn — greater even than not filling in your entire profile — is to be casual and indiscriminate in accepting or making connection requests. More is definitely not merrier within LinkedIn — unless every person is connected to you in a highly relevant way and has a strong profile that is near 100% completion.

So how do you find connections? Before you can pick out the “good” ones, you have to first possess a healthy selection of potential connections to choose from.

LinkedIn Connections Overview

LinkedIn “helps” you out almost from the word “go”. No sooner have you confirmed your email address on LinkedIn sign up than it takes you back to your Home page with the following suggestion at the end of the “Welcome” box:

Hopefully you’ve kept certain email accounts strictly separate for your business. If you have, these are the accounts to import. And you do not have to send connection requests to everyone imported — LinkedIn is just making the choice to do so easier for you.

There’s another compelling reason to start adding relevant network connections (i.e. business people you know in your industry): When you reach 30 connections, you will be able to unlock and access LinkedIn Insights, which are specific metrics for your LinkedIn Company Page. LinkedIn insights lets you see the number Page views/clicks your Company Page is getting, as well as specific demographics about your Page’s visitors. You’ll be able to fine tune your Company Page to attract even better targeted visitors — while providing top content.

Step 1. Allowing Others to Contact You

So what was that about LinkedIn Company Pages?

In order to create one, you need a dedicated email address for that company that is not a public email address.

Yahoo, Live and Gmail are all perfect examples of public email addresses that are not acceptable to LinkedIn for a Company Page contact email

Other Company Page requirements include:

– You are listed as an employee of your Company (rather than as “self employed”)
 — Your position is listed in the “Experience” section of your profile
 — Your Profile has, at barest minimum, intermediate status
 — You have “several” connections

Yet another surprisingly neglected others-generated avenue of connection: Allowing people to connect with you by supplying Contact Information.

You can do this right within your top Profile box by clicking on “Edit contact info”.

You can also slide right down to the bottom of your Profile Page, and add it from there.

This allows you to personalize your contact message, creating calls to action — as well as move “Advice for Contacting [YourName]” right up to the top level under your Profile header, if you prefer.

Another way to allow others to connect with you: Create a searchable vanity URL for your Public Profile.

Your Public Profile is not what your network sees: It’s what everyone sees when they search for you via Google.

To change your Public Profile URL:

Click on the “Profile” tab, if you are not already in your Profile section. Then click on “Edit” beside your Public Profile address:

When the new page opens up, go over to the right-hand side and click on “Customize your public profile URL”. (You can also “View your public profile”, to see what the general public are seeing.)

Remove the numerical portion of your Public Profile URL and substitute your name; or your name plus keyword.

E. G. “http://www.linkedin.com/in/minneemouseVPM”

To add Badges:

Notice on your Public Profile Page, if you look below the URL-changing link, you can also create a Profile badge to promote your LinkedIn Profile. Click on “Create a profile badge” and do so.

Step 2. Connecting With Others

LinkedIn provides many ways for you to actively connect with others. You can initiate contact through…

– Existing desktop email connections on your computer.

Upgrading your LinkedIn account, to unlock InMail and expand your connection options

– Sending InMail messages to LinkedIn members not in your network who display the OpenLink symbol

– Entering names in the Search field at the top of your LinkedIn Home Page

– Entering “find people” in the Search field to see people:

– Within your network
 — Outside it

– Using Advanced search functions to target exact types of people in specific locations, industries, etc.

– Advertising, if you’re more interested in clients and customers than in connections

– Adding connections from your settings

(Note: You cannot personalize invitations this way, so let the recipient know an invitation is going to arrive; or ask them if it’s okay to send one.)

– Connecting through LinkedIn Groups

Joining a niche- or career-relevant LinkedIn Group is a great way to build a relationship first, before asking someone (especially a high-profile Group Member) to join your network. If they have dialogued with you within a group, they are much more likely to accept your request.

And this brings us to the most important way to gain network connections…

Step 3. Invite People to Join Your Network

Once you have located LinkedIn members you personally know, you can send them an invitation to connect.

If they accept, they become “1stdegree connections”. And you will be able to see their connections (who are your “2nddegree connections”.) Their connections in turn will be 3rddegree connections.

Just make sure you choose to invite only those connections who will be a credit to you. Choosing the wrong connection puts you up to public scrutiny: It’s like applying for a job at the Royal Mint — and cheerfully letting your interviewer know your brother is Lenny the Safe Cracker, three-time felon. (In the same vein, make sure they will regard connecting with you as a positive! If they don’t know you from Adam or — worse — you have to remind someone that you were both in Mrs. Ireland’s Grade 5 Dance Class when you were children, they’re not likely to welcome you with open arms.)

How to send an invitation:

1. In any search result (or suggested person to connect with in your right-hand column), click the “Connect” button to the right of their Profile icon and name.

2. A box will open, allowing you to check off how you know the person you are sending the invitation to, and supplying a “canned” invitation.

NEVER send the “canned” invite: Always send a personal note, calling your contact by name, and reminding him of how you fit into his past.

It also goes without saying that you should NEVER invite someone you don’t know.

What to do if you are confronted by an “Invite” button instead:

Depending on how you come across your potential connection on LinkedIn, you may see an “Invite” button instead of a “Connect” button. Do not select it — the “canned” message will instantly be sent, without giving you a chance to personalize your invitation.

First, click on the little pencil icon to customize your message.

Step 4. Other Ways to Connect

Get creative when it comes to adding relevant, valuable networking contacts to your LinkedIn network (or getting yourself added to theirs).

1. Check “Related Searches” and other LinkedIn Suggestions

Be on the alert for LinkedIn’s help — you will occasionally see helpful suggestions for finding more people you may know.

One of these suggestions will show up at the bottom of search query results. For example, here are suggestions made at the end of the first page of results for the search parameter “find people”:

Click on any of the suggested links.

2. Look through your Rolodex

If you don’t have a Rolodex, clean out your business card holder or purse. Look for business cards of relevant contacts; then search to see if they are on LinkedIn.

If they are members of LinkedIn, send them a request to connect.

3. Check out LinkedIn’s Productivity Tools

Go down to “Tools” in the discreet horizontal menu at the very bottom of your LinkedIn Home page and choose one of their search widget options.

4. Ask for an Introduction

You can ask for an introduction, if your 1stdegree connection has someone in her network you wish to meet. The drawback with this lies in the fact that there is zero onus on the recipient to respond: You may be left indefinitely in limbo, wondering if they ever received the invitation. (Introductions expire in six months.)

A better way is to ask your connection to “share” your Profile. Click on the down arrow beside the “Send InMail” or “Send Message” button, and select “Share profile”.

As you can see, there are many ways to connect, using LinkedIn. The best rules to keep in mind are:

– Be respectful. Treat your connections as valuable assets.

– Be professional. This is not Facebook, for all it calls itself a social network. It is for business networking.

– Don’t contact people cold-turkey, if they don’t know you from Adam. Ask someone to share your profile or introduce you.

– Always personalize connection messages

Treat LinkedIn as a valuable resource — and remember to post frequently and check it daily.

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Originally published at valleysocialmedia.com.