You have overcome the fear of refusal and embarrassment to put yourself there, and now you are ready to learn how to network on LinkedIn. You are ready to level up your network of professionals, secure job opportunities, and advance your career. There is only one problem. Once you find someone you want to connect with, you don’t know the right approach. Should you be personal or straighten the point? Need to take advantage of shared connections in your first outreach? Is it best to ask for permission before submitting the link I want the connection to click through? I have a lot to think about. However, a good place to start is the goal of networking, which is to foster a productive relationship for employment or business ((Forbes: 10 reasons why networking is essential to your career)).
With that in mind, there’s no right or wrong way to build a network on LinkedIn and establish a valuable connection, but there are best practices ((AeroLeads: 14 for professional-level business networking). LinkedIn hack)). And many of them are the same tested strategies that professional speakers like me use to connect with the audience. As I’m learning how to network on LinkedIn, there are always some things to aim for and some things to avoid.
Implementation: Read the room (or profile)
Before you start the process of contacting someone on LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to do some research on them. You don’t have to go far beyond your LinkedIn profile to get valuable information. Look at the tones on their page. Is it informal or academic? Does it contain personal information or is it strictly an expert? Is your profile picture serious or easy? Understanding the tones may help you decide which tone to use in your message to them. According to social science research, when people meet other people who behave like themselves, they are considered to be more likable, and liking helps connect ((Psychology today: why we are). Do you like people who look like us?))). Professional speakers often read the room before giving a presentation to assess the mood and energy level of the audience. They do this so that they can meet the audience where they are, before taking them on a journey. For clarity, this does not mean that you should change yourself to make a connection. However, at least initially, matching the mood of a person’s profile may allow you to start the relationship-building process immediately. But as you’re learning how to build a network on LinkedIn, research (and the use of similarity charm) shouldn’t stop at tone evaluation.
Enforcement: Find a shared connection
When you read a person’s profile, you should be aware of shared connections or common affiliations. Did you attend the same meeting? Did you both graduate from the same university? Are you following similar ideological leaders or are you volunteering in the same group? Shared connections can be mutual friends or colleagues. These mutual partnerships are important because they help build trust, and what are untrusted relationships? As a professional speaker, I will do research before going on stage to understand the audience as much as possible and effectively emphasize the connections that are shared in the process of building trust. Emphasizing shared connections in communication helps create a sense of intimacy. Familiarity is important for networking on LinkedIn to foster trust.
Implementation: Outreach about them
Think about the last time you received an email or had a conversation with someone. The other person couldn’t stop talking about himself. The interaction may have made them feel better, but you were probably frustrated or uninterested. This is because it is essentially wired to connect, not control. Neuroscientists at Harvard University have found that talking about themselves gives them the same signal of joy in their brains as food and money ((Fast Company: Why Help Everyone Brag About Theirself). Should it be))). Evaluate whether a connection is worth it by determining whether it provides two-way engagement and leads to interrelationships. As a result, professional speakers whose job is to connect with the audience deliberately spend less time talking about themselves than listening to the audience. That’s why you don’t want to fill your entire LinkedIn message by talking about who you are and what you’re doing. Instead, put the person you want to network at the center of your outreach. After all, the point of networking is not to monopolize the relationship, but to build it. While learning how to build a network on LinkedIn, you can learn more about connections by asking great questions. Questions not only help you gain information and insights, but also help advance conversations and move from online to offline networking.
Implementation: Ask for permission
If your networking goal on LinkedIn is to find customers for your product or service, you need to take the important action of asking for permission before submitting a link or document. Asking for permission not only invites engagement, but also creates an opportunity for approval.
x Is it okay to send an article about three ways a product can help your team be more productive?
With the consent of the person you are networking with, you will find that person is open and attentive and probably anticipates the value you have to share. Professional speakers often ask the audience for permission to share advice prior to the presentation. Doing so creates consensus, shares control, and improves the viewer experience. However, sending sales material to someone who did not request it to initiate a networking exchange can be impersonal, disturbing, and complicate your chances of developing a valuable relationship.
What you shouldn’t do: look for something you have nothing to give
Whether personal or professional, the basis of a good relationship is mutual benefit. When learning how to build a network on LinkedIn, your priorities shouldn’t just focus on what you get from a particular connection. You also need to consider what you can give. How can you help them? How can you add value to their current situation? If you are an emerging leader or a young professional, you may feel that you are not well advanced in your career to be of great help to the veteran professional you want to connect with. That is not true. There are perspectives to provide, referrals to suggest, and feedback to help convey. You can also encourage by being actively involved in posts and articles written by Connections. Try to prioritize value as much as you focus on profiting through your networking efforts. In fact, the more you focus on delivering value to others, the easier it is to find the entire networking.
Don’t: Be afraid to follow up
If your networking efforts don’t bring immediate dialogue or other exchanges, don’t be afraid to follow up ((LinkedIn: 6 best tips on how to follow up after connecting to LinkedIn)). Sending a single message at a given moment does not necessarily lead to a lack of interest in the connection. Maybe it’s just bad timing. However, before checking in again, please check your initial outreach to see if you followed the suggestions described here. If not, be sure to rebuild your approach before pressing submit. Also, don’t forget to follow up on your connections if they give you practical advice. Checking in and letting us know that you have applied feedback will help you establish a beneficial relationship for both parties.
Learning how to build a network on LinkedIn takes trial and error, and you can eventually find the flow, but you don’t have to start from scratch. When understanding how to connect with professionals on LinkedIn, take into account the strategies that professional speakers use to connect with their audience. Before contacting the person you want to link to, be sure to read that person’s profile as it contains valuable information to help you adjust your approach. If your networking goals include finding customers for your product or service, try not to attack potential connections with communications that you feel are too selfish. After all, keep this in mind. Relationships of all kinds, including those developed on LinkedIn, should provide value to everyone involved.
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How to Build a Network on LinkedIn (6 Recommendations and Prohibitions)
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