Maximizing LinkedIn, Part 3: Building Your Network: Basic
The previous two TechTips have helped you get your LinkedIn profile in great shape. Now you need to begin the process of actually building your network. Here are five tips for connecting with the people you already know and are part of your existing networking group. Many of your existing contacts may already have a LinkedIn profile.
1. Connections: Look for the green Add Connections bar on nearly every page of LinkedIn. Use this link to invite people you know to join your first-degree (people with whom you are directly connected) network. In most cases you’ll need their email addresses. If LinkedIn gives you the opportunity (some invitation channels do, and some inexplicably don’t), change the standard boilerplate invitation language to sound more like your own voice. And you might remind the person you are requesting a connection in the invitation how you know them and/or where you meet them. Be careful of sending invitations to people who aren’t expecting them – you could lose your invitation privileges that way.
2. Colleagues: The Colleagues feature lets you quickly see which LinkedIn members have worked with you during your career. That’s incredibly handy because it can be easy to forget people, and you probably don’t have current email addresses for long-ago colleagues.
3. Current Clients: At a minimum you should send a request to connect with current clients. If it is a larger organization, then you will want to send a request to connect to every contact at the organization.
4. Address Book: If you have an address book on Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, or another popular email application, you can download your entire contact list into LinkedIn. Don’t panic – LinkedIn won’t send spam; it will just tell you which of these contacts already have a LinkedIn profile.
5. Classmates: Just as the Colleagues feature does, Classmates lets you reconnect with people from your past. Invite people to join your network via the Classmates channel with caution, because this is where LinkedIn invitation spam tends to congregate. As suggested above, a helpful reminder in the body of your invitation can help refresh the memory of classmates you haven’t been in touch with for a while.
Taking these steps will allow you to begin building your network of people. In a future TechTips I will provide some advanced networking options.