In the last part of this series, we worked on getting your LinkedIn profile in tip top shape so you can go out and mingle with others. Think about it like getting dressed for a job interview. You wouldn’t want to go out for an interview in a t-shirt and ripped jeans. Once your profile is done using the tips in the last part, it’s time to start making connections.
Part 2 – Connecting With Others
LinkedIn makes this really easy in a few different ways. You can connect with others by making direct connections between your profiles or by joining industry groups.
Connect With Those You Already Know
The first type of connection you’ll make is likely to be profile to profile and with people you already know. You can have LinkedIn scan through your email contact list to see if any of your existing contacts are part of the social networking website. Be sure to add with caution, however. There may be people within your email contact list that you don’t necessarily want to connect with on LinkedIn. If you have an email program like Yahoo or Gmail that collects the email addresses of everyone that has ever sent you a message, you might be in this situation. You can select who you’d like to add to your list and who you’d like to leave out. LinkedIn will guide you through adding your existing contacts from your email list.
You can also connect with those that you know by looking up their name directly in the LinkedIn system. Using their search function, you can locate people that you know and request to add them to your network. LinkedIn will make you categorize the contact by your relationship to them – whether they were a colleague, client, friend or “other.” If you select “other” you’ll have to verify their email address to ensure that you know the person.
Once you’ve made a connection with colleagues, you can post recommendations on their profiles. Recommendations should be offered freely and not just in an attempt to get one in return. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can directly request a recommendation from one of your contacts. Their recommendation will appear on your profile page.
Connect via Groups
Groups make it possible to connect with people who are not in your immediate network. You can select the Groups tab in the top menu bar in order to find groups to join. You should use two main strategies when selecting groups – connect with industry groups and connect with customer groups.
Taking the example from the previous post, if you were a web designer you’d want to connect with other designers as well as those that represent your ideal clients. If you were a web designer specializing in helping small businesses or working in the non-profit field, you’d want to find groups that related to those fields. You can connect with potential customers through groups by answering questions and participating in group discussions.
Now that your network has expanded, it’s time to make use of the site. Many people don’t go beyond signing up and adding contacts. By following the steps in the next part of this series, you’ll get more out of the site than the average user.