With over 240 million active users, LinkedIn’s completely business-oriented social networking possibilities give you ample opportunity to foster professional relationships.
According to an Investis IQ study conducted in the first quarter of 2013, LinkedIn leads social networks in driving traffic to corporate websites. In the study, LinkedIn was responsible for 64% of visits originating with social media, in comparison to Facebook’s 17% and Twitter’s 14%. Not everyone’s getting the benefit of this strong B2B network, though, because many companies and professionals aren’t making connections on LinkedIn.
Networking on LinkedIn is both similar – and very different – from other social media platforms. Because LinkedIn operates as a business networking environment, it’s not considered a best practice to randomly connect with every profile that interests you as you might do on Twitter or Facebook. It’s even more frowned upon to beef up your connections with colleague or business associate relationships that do not exist in real life. Instead, follow these tips for making connections on LinkedIn that can be meaningful and mutually beneficial.
Spend Time on Your Profile
Anonymous Internet profiles with limited information are immediately suspect, and for good reason, so make it obvious who you are on your LinkedIn profile. Include a professional headshot, your name, some basic contact information, and at least enough work history to establish your expertise in your field or industry. These specific details jog the memory of those visiting your profile and let other professionals see that you potentially have something to offer as part of their network.
Build and Manage a Company Page
If your business or organization does not currently have a company page on LinkedIn, then you are not only missing out on some networking opportunities, but you are also not optimizing your website with search engines. Just like with Twitter and Facebook, you can increase social traffic to your website by sharing content on your company page. This cross-promotes your company, brand, employees, and services across your web presence to establish you as an industry leader.
Don’t be afraid to initiate connections with employees, co-workers, former colleagues, clients, or those you have met at in-person networking events. After you connect with someone, LinkedIn offers up a list of people who you might know and want to connect with. These suggestions are pulled from mutual connections or from profiles within a network you have identified on your profile, such as a group, past employer, or alma mater. Following the trail of suggested connections lets you view new profiles and connect with colleagues and potential business partners you may not have found on your own.
Use the Reject Button
As with any public social media profile, a quantified following does have its benefits. One hundred connections are better than 10, but only if these are quality connections. Review and reject invitations to connect from individuals who represent negative issues or if you simply do not know them, as they may be looking to stuff their own profiles. The last thing you want on your profile is a list of illegitimate connections that offer you little real meaning.
Mind Your Manners & Personalize Everything
People want to connect with other people, not with machines. LinkedIn offers some features for efficiency, such as auto-generated connection invitations, but personalizing the messages you send to potential contacts increases your chances of growing your network. It’s especially important to let people who may not immediately recognize your name know how you’re connected and why you would like to connect further.
Get personal by noting if you worked together in the past, have similar interests, or belong to the same groups. Include appropriate salutations and address people by name. Say thank you when people accept your invitation to connect, recommend you, endorse you, or offer helpful advice.
Join – and Participate In – Groups
One of the best ways to develop new contacts on LinkedIn is to join groups. LinkedIn offers thousands of groups in a range of niches – search for groups that represent associations and topics related to your business or interests. Once you join, jump in with your opinions and share your company’s content, striking a balance between helpful, professional, and friendly conversations. As you get to know people in groups, you can connect with them via their individual profiles or follow their company pages to explore future opportunities.
Managing your LinkedIn profile is a task that is just as necessary, and beneficial, as effectively managing your company’s Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ pages. Contact Scale regarding your social media management and learn how we can optimize your LinkedIn presence for networking and building business relationships. Feel free to follow Scale’s company page on LinkedIn and connect with our employees!