LinkedIn is kind of like a cocktail party, but without the jazz and the olives.
You want your profile to be properly dressed, to present the very best image of you. You want its contents to be interesting. And perhaps most importantly, you want the right guests there. After all, a LinkedIn account that’s not linked to the right people can become a pity party. And who wants that?
Facebook is easy. You can connect with your Aunt Bertha, your daughter’s kindergarten teacher, and that one guy who lives down the street whose name you keep forgetting. But you want to be more selective on LinkedIn. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
1. LinkedIn has its limits. According to LinkedIn, “LinkedIn initially allows all users to send up to 3000 invitations. This limit is an automatic method to prevent accidental abuse and protect both senders and recipients.” Wow! Three thousand is a really big number. But if you’re doing heavy-duty networking over a long period of time, you might approach that limit faster than you had anticipated. And while you can withdraw old invitations that the recipient didn’t respond to, it won’t return them to your balance of available invitations. If you limit your invitations only to trusted professional contacts and to others who welcome connections with new contacts, LinkedIn might raise your limit, but that’s a might. Better to be a little choosy.
2. Your invitation should be personalized. We’ve all had the unsettling experience of getting an invite from someone we just can’t place. Is that the woman I met at the networking brunch last Tuesday? Or is she someone from my accounting department? You don’t want people to feel that way when they get YOUR invite. And you definitely don’t want people to be clicking “I don’t know this person” because if you rack up too many of those, your account gets put on hold for a month. So tell the individual something about yourself or how you are connected IRL. Some suggestions: be transparent about the reasons why you want to connect, remind the person how you met them, or refer to something in their profile.
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3. Send a thank you to people who accept your invitation. A sure way to make a good impression is to recognize that your new connection had to take a moment to decide whether or not to connect, and chose to do so. Just like sending a thank you after a job interview shows that you are respectful and cognitive of others’ time and effort, a thank you on LinkedIn shows you are thoughtful and business-like. And that works in reverse, as well. If someone sends YOU an invitation and you accept, again, be sure to say thank you. It’s the beginning of a relationship; you want to start it off right.
Once you’ve got your party started, look outside of your current circles to add to your network by joining groups. I’ve got tips on that topic here.
The more relationships you build, the merrier, right?