Connecting 101: LinkedIn
I signed up for LinkedIn in 2007. I had yet to discover Facebook and Twitter, so LinkedIn provided me with my first “social” experiences. I originally used LinkedIn as a tool for researching people and companies as part of my job requirements. Eventually, I began joining groups and connecting with people from all over the world as an open networker. Making connections helped me realize the power LinkedIn holds as a social platform where professionals interact and engage with others.
According to Wikipedia, LinkedIn reports more than 225 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories. Wow! That number represents a lot of potential connections. Know that you do not have to be connected with thousands of people to have a robust network – the size and quality of your network is up to you.
First things first, you never have to pay to make connections on LinkedIn. The free version provides you with the same connection and networking abilities as the paid version. Secondly, you do not need to be an “open networker” to connect with anyone you wish, but know that most users prefer to connect with meaning and intent on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, LinkedIn attracts a lot of spammers, but the platform does provide easy ways to report and ban them. If you do not mind occasional spam and want to connect with a large volume of people from all over the world though, you may consider joining open networker groups.
After determining with whom you want to network and why, the next step is connecting. Are you a new LinkedIn user or are you interested in connecting with more people? These are some of the basics to get you started.
Put your best foot forward with your LinkedIn Profile
- Your profile gives people their first impressions of you so make it count!
- Make sure your profile is complete and current with a professional picture, employment information and relevant qualifications.
- Always be honest with the information you provide, especially if you are seeking employment or potential clients.
Where to find your connections on LinkedIn
- One of the first places to find new connections is on LinkedIn’s home page when you are signed in. There is an entire section called “People You May Know.” Based on information you have filled out for your profile, LinkedIn makes suggestions for you. Do not be too surprised when it shows you people you may not really know.
- You can also find people with whom to connect through the advanced search function. This allows you to search for people by name, company, job title or location.
- Another way to meet people is through joining and participating in LinkedIn groups. People typically join groups in order to network with like-minded people. With a group association, it becomes easy to connect since you most likely have common interests.
- As you connect with people, you become “1st-level” connections with them. You are then able to view their connections; their 1st-level connections are now your 2nd-level connections. You can also see when your 1st-level connections make other new connections. As a result, you now have a larger network and more people with whom you can connect directly.
Mind your manners when connecting on LinkedIn
- When you are ready to connect, make sure you are sending personalized invitations. Introduce yourself when sending invitations to people you have never met, and briefly explain why you would like to connect with them.
- When you accept someone’s invitation to connect or they accept your invitation, it is good practice to respond and thank them personally.
What other suggestions do you have for connecting on LinkedIn? I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below, tweet me at @jennghanford or connect with me on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/jennghanford).