by Anthony Juliano
Previously, I shared some best practices for enhancing your existing relationships on LinkedIn. This is LinkedIn’s true wheelhouse: the platform works best when used to make deeper connections or additional impressions with those you already know. However, there are some ways you can use LinkedIn to develop new relationships — and here are four of the most prominent:
1. Use advanced search to learn who knows whom. Advanced search is one of the most powerful features on LinkedIn. Not only can you find out who does what at a given company or in a given industry, you can also see who knows whom within your network. That means you can see if someone you want to know is connected to someone you already know. When that intermediary exists, you have a great opportunity to…
2. Ask for an introduction. LinkedIn provides a formal process for asking for introductions, wherein the intermediary mentioned above can connect you to someone you’d like to meet. Use these introductions judiciously, however: if you have a basic LinkedIn membership you can request no more than five introductions at any given time. In addition, your connections may get weary of helping you connect to others — unless, of course, you’re willing to do the same for them.
3. Join the same groups as the connection you want to meet — and provide real value. A shared interest or affinity is a great way to break the ice. With that in mind, visit prospective connections’ profiles to see what LinkedIn groups they’re part of, then browse those groups to find the groups in which they’re most active. Assuming you share the same interest — or that you can develop that interest for the purposes of building the relationship — you can join the group and participate in conversations with those you want to meet or start conversations that provide value to the group as a whole. It takes time and effort, but it can accelerate the process in a substantive way.
4. Send a personalized connection request. Want to accelerate the process even more? The best route may be the simplest: sending a connection request to a person with whom you’d like to connect. Just be sure to make the connection request by visiting his or her profile from the full site, clicking the “Connect” button and then writing a personalized connection request that explains why you’re reaching out. Sending the request in any other way — from a LinkedIn mobile app, for example — will result in the prospective connection getting the generic (and uninspiring) “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” message. You can do much better than that — and the likelihood of your request being accepted will improve as well.
Remember, LinkedIn is best used for connecting with those you already know. If you’re smart in how you go about it, however, it’s possible to launch a few new relationships, too.
Anthony Juliano of the LinkedInstitute, and Vice President of Marketing and Social Media Strategy with Asher Agency, is an experienced LinkedIn trainer and strategy consultant. He has developed and taught several LinkedIn classes, presented about LinkedIn at national conferences and provided LinkedIn training for a wide variety of individuals and businesses. Anthony approaches his work with one simple goal: to help others understand today’s changing communication environment. He presented two sessions this February at the 2014 ALDE International Educational Conference in Jacksonville, Fla., “Building Bridges With LinkedIn: How to Connect With Your Advocates,” and, “Bridging the Gap Between Social Media and Marketing: An Integrated Approach.” Want to go deeper? Purchase Anthony’s sessions here!