LinkedIn is a powerful business tool. It has more than 500 million users and continues to be the No.1 professional social network in the world. Making meaningful LinkedIn connections can help you increase sales, recruit good talent, find vendors for your services and who knows, it might even help you find an investor for your business.
But where do you start? If you are a newbie to LinkedIn, how do you begin your professional networking journey? Or if you’ve already been on LinkedIn for many years but feel like you’re getting nowhere, how do you revive your LinkedIn account?
Importance of ‘starting right’ with your first set of LinkedIn connections
LinkedIn, like any other good social network, is designed and programmed to analyse your existing connections and help you connect with similar profiles. That is why the first set of connections that you make on LinkedIn is very important. That determines the growth trajectory of your future connections. Good connections lead to better connections; the opposite is also true. Most people miss this crucial first step and they start off with random connections on LinkedIn, and then after a few months, they find that their network is not meaningful and does not produce any tangible business or professional benefits.
Some signs that your LinkedIn connections may be random and not the right ones for you:
- There is low interaction on your profile.
- Your newsfeed does not add any value to you.
- The posts or updates published by your network seem irrelevant to you.
- The posts that you publish do not create any impact or get any interaction from your network.
- You are unable to give nor receive professional help
- You do not come across many business opportunities.
Do not lose heart. There is still hope. The good news is you can always start over. You can open your ‘My Connections’ list and start clicking on the ‘Remove Connection’ button on the profiles of the connections that seem irrelevant to you. Then you can start connecting with the right people. Here is the list of 7 types of connections that can give a boost to your professional networking journey.
How to Revive Your LinkedIn Account: 7 Types of Meaningful Connections
1. Connect with your personal and work contacts:
The best set of people to start with on LinkedIn are your office colleagues, friends and family (in that order). These are people who know you, they are comfortable interacting with you, they are comfortable recommending you and they can help you kickstart your interactions. These connections also give you a good reason to visit your LinkedIn homepage often to check for news updates, etc., thus increasing your activity levels on the network. Since it is a trusted circle, you can ask and give when asked honest feedback on work related matters, which can be valuable.
2. Connect with your customers
Search for your existing clients and customers on LinkedIn and connect with them. Clients might prefer connecting with you on LinkedIn than on Facebook. And for you this is a good way to keep in touch with your clients. Even when you have completed a project for them, staying connected on LinkedIn is a great way to occupy their mind space. Once you connect, any updates you post or publish will be visible to them, reminding them of your services and expertise. And when they have a need for your services, this gives them an opportunity to reach out to you and ask for help.
3. Connect with your offline contacts
Business card exchange = LinkedIn Connection. This is the the simple rule that I follow. Whenever I meet someone in an event, conference, seminar or even during commute in a train or bus, and I exchange business cards with them (of course I do this only if I think that they are a relevant connection) I follow up with sending them a connection request on LinkedIn. This simple strategy can help you stay in touch with your offline contacts on an ongoing basis without much effort. You can also showcase your expertise and interest areas using updates and publishing posts.
4. Connect with contacts from other social networks
Connect with work related contacts from your other social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Select friends from other networks that can contribute to you and that you can contribute to professionally. Search for them on LinkedIn and connect with them. (See our earlier blog post on advanced search functionality of LinkedIn). With these contacts, you could choose to keep your personal conversations on Facebook and move your business conversations to LinkedIn.
5. Connect with influencers and thought leaders
Search for influencers and industry thought leaders and send them a connection request. If you are unable to connect with them, you could ‘follow’ them to receive relevant news and updates on your timeline which you can later share with your network.
6. Connect using LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn groups can be a great place to locate relevant and meaningful connections from your industry. Participate and contribute to conversations in select groups and make note of people who might be good connections for the future. Then send them a connection request or an InMail. If you add enough value to the group, you might start receiving connection requests from others in the group.
7. Connect using your content
Content is a powerful connector. If you continue to create good content, the right people will find you and will want to connect with you. I call this the ‘Inbound professional lead magnet’. When you share relevant content on LinkedIn or publish a good post, it announces to your professional circle that you are a person who is worth staying connected with. And you will see your connection request notifications start to increase. These connections will usually be interactive and fruitful, because they have voluntarily asked for your connection and they look forward to interacting with you. The benefits are similar to that of email opt-ins. Good content also helps you to ‘give’ to your network. LinkedIn need not always be about you looking for opportunities. It can be a channel where you could help and add-value to others, even if they may not be able to return the favour. One of the best ways to ‘give’ and ‘help’ others is by creating good content.
Hope you find these tips useful. Are there any other type of LinkedIn connections that has worked well for you? Please share it in the comments section. I appreciate it.
Wishing you all the very best!