Networking is crucial in today’s world. It's how great things happen, right? It’s how your friend of a friend of a friend landed that dream job in Hawaii.
All expenses paid plus a sign on bonus. Really?
That’s probably a bit of a reach. The point is, most of us know LinkedIn is a great place to network and develop contacts. A quick online search will show you there’s a ton of advice explaining how to expand your LinkedIn network.
It’s Always Smart to Research Best Practices and Networking Tips
The more people you know, the more you put yourself out there, the more you help others, the better your chances will be to find what you’re looking for.
Some people are natural-born social butterflies. They strike up conversations standing in line at the coffee shop. They are always in the know because they know everyone.
Others cringe at the thought of reaching out to a stranger for any reason. It doesn’t matter if it’s online, or in person. They’d rather get a tooth pulled than start a conversation in an elevator.
Do You Jump Right in or Run for the Hills?
I’m one of those people who will talk to almost anyone in person. If I’m standing in line next to you, I’ll most likely say hello at the very least. I love people.
I'll admit I sometimes struggle to make that initial contact online. I don’t want my message to come across as cheesy or like a pitch. The good news is I’ve found it gets easier with practice.
I’ve learned to step out of my comfort zone on LinkedIn. I’ve learned to have fun with it and challenge myself to reach out every day. I’m getting results and connecting with some outstanding people.
How to Simplify Networking on Linkedin
You decide to connect with someone LinkedIn suggests you may know. You want to make sure your message doesn’t get ignored.
First, look at their profile and activity to see what you have in common. You see they recently shared an article you also enjoyed reading. Excellent!
Next, click “Connect” and then click “Add a note” to personalize the request. Now, imagine this potential LinkedIn connection is sitting next to you at a coffee shop.
Reach out your virtual hand and say hello. Ask how their day is going.
Tell them you noticed the New York Times article they’re reading. You read it this morning, and you’d love to hear their take on it. They smile and share their thoughts on the article. Bravo!
Most Requests Will Be Accepted If They’re Personal and Engaging
You want to add more value and perspective to your network. Imagine you’re at a party and notice a friend laughing along with a few people you haven’t met before.
You overhear something funny, and you can’t help but chime in. The next thing you know, you’re shaking hands and making new friends.
Here’s How That Looks Online
Pay attention to the comments on threads you’re already following. Do you recognize anyone who is adding appealing comments? Does someone seem to align with your values?
You can like the comment if you don’t know the person. You can even comment on it! This is called networking!
Go ahead and like that hilarious comment. Thank them in your comment and tell them how they made you literally laugh out loud. Mention that the person sitting next to you at work is glaring at you because they have no idea why you’re laughing.
This scenario sparks a conversation. Then, a connection invite comes to you. Easy!
You can reach out to anyone in a genuine way. Imagine you’re at a mall, and someone rushes up to you to sell you the most magical face cream ever. They start by telling you how beautiful you are. It's awkward.
Before you can say thank you, they’re shoving a $150 miracle potion in your face. They're swearing up and down it will make you look 20 years younger. This is not a great approach to networking on LinkedIn.
Nobody wants to be pitched to. Most of us are suspicious of random strangers sending empty connection invites.
Stand out by recognizing something unique about the person you want to add to your network. Think about what you have to offer to the relationship as well.
Here’s the Bottom Line
You can build a strong LinkedIn network and have mutually beneficial relationships. Simply be yourself. Think of how you’d like to be approached and do the same.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes before you rush in. Get creative and have fun. Send me a connection request for practice!