Doing business on LinkedIn – Part 2

From Jade McAuley, Rebel Marketing

Now that your profile is looking schmick as, it’s time to reach out and let others know you’re there. Connecting with people on LinkedIn is definitely a numbers game, but not in the way that might you think.
Initially, cultivating connections opens up new levels in your LinkedIn profile – giving you higher access and more options. The final “target” is 500 – this is where the numbers stop on your profile’s connection counter (check mine and you will see it just says 500+) and you have an all access pass to every LinkedIn feature. Please don’t ask me to list the numbers and levels, my memory is just not that good – but I bet Google would have some answers for you.
I promise you that mounting up the connections is not just about accessing different features, there’s more to come in Part 3 about what those connections really offer you.

Here are my top tips for connecting well on LinkedIn >>

> Mine your existing contacts
In the top left nav menu of LinkedIn, click My Network > Add Contacts. Pop your email address into the field provided and hit Continue. Depending on how your email is set up, you may get a pop up asking for which email account (for weirdos like me who have multiple email addresses).
Now this is really important, when you get to the page that says Connect with people you know on LinkedIn, click the Deselect all option. Just because you have their email, doesn’t mean you necessarily want to connect with them. Now you can have the enjoyment of looking at each contact one by one and selecting those that you would like to strengthen your professional relationship with.
Now don’t wimp out on me here and give up, we’re so close to done. On the next page, LinkedIn would like you to send invites to all of the people in your contacts that aren’t yet on LinkedIn. Personally, I think this would annoy most people so once again, Deselect all and the option to Skip will appear – click it.

> Keep up
After ploughing your email contacts, then it’s a matter of keeping up with adding to your LinkedIn connections with the new people you meet. New clients, suppliers, associates, interesting people you meet at networking events, workshop facilitators, guest speakers, authors you’ve read, blog writers you’ve read etc. Finally – an instant use for all those business cards you collect!
For people like guest speakers and authors of books you love, these people may not know you – so this is where it is important to…

> Personalise the message
Since I started blogging on LinkedIn, I receive a TON of connection requests – and a lot of them are from people I’ve never heard of. If they send a request and it just has the generic connection message, guess what – nuh uh, not accepting your request.
I’ve had the opportunity to connect with some US and UK experts, bloggers and authors who have never even heard of me – perhaps never even heard of Queensland. All it came down to was making sure I personalised the connection request message, and gave them a good reason to hit Accept.
To get the option to personalise a request message, you have to jump onto the person’s profile – which is also good because it shows your potential new connection that you are actually interested in them and aren’t just throwing out random requests.
If your network is sizable enough (more on that at the end down there), then there will be a Connect button on their profile for you to click. When you click that Connect button from their profile, it will then take you to a screen where you can choose who you know the person and you can include a personal note.
Use that personal note to explain why you’d like to connect with them – maybe you saw them speaking at a conference, were incredibly inspired by what they had to say and wanted to stay up to date with what else they’re doing. Whatever it may be, write your message and hit Send Invitation.

> Bulk checking
If you are really keen to use LinkedIn for exposure for your business, then there are a couple of other things you can do that are a bit time-consuming but can get you a long way. One is to head to the People You May Know page (under the My Network option on that top nav) and start scrolling.
Another is to click the Advanced button on the right of the search bar, close the pop up window that appears and, on the left hand menu, click the +Add button under Location. In the field that appears, type in a town name where you would know lots of people – where you grew up, where your business operates etc. Just choose one for now and plug it in, and an autofill should appear. Click on the autofill option and then, on that left hand side again, under Relationship – untick 1st Connections and Group Members. Once again, this is a sit and scroll exercise for times like a Friday afternoon when you have 15min to burn and don’t feel like starting anything new.
When in that Advanced menu, you will see that there are other options to narrow the search. If you’ve worked for a large organisation, you may want to drop the town search and do a search for that organisation instead. What will come up is anyone with that organisation name as their current job or in their previous work experience.
Connect away!

Before signing off, I did forget to tell you one other important detail about why being brave and connecting with big names and people you just met can be so useful. When starting out, you’re not going to be able to send a connection request to Richard Branson – LinkedIn restricts who you can send connection requests to based on the size of your network. The bigger and more far-reaching your network becomes, the more chance you have that you’ll be able to connect with others who are a bit out of your daily reach.
Once you do have the option to click Connect on their profile, getting them to accept your request all comes down to that personalised message – good luck!

Next up in Part 3 of my LinkedIn series, you’ll find out why the numbers count and how to use this social network to gain exposure for you and your business.