LinkedIn is one of the best professional networking tools available. It offers the ability to find and meet professionals in almost any field, company or region. With over 45 million users, it is very likely you will find people who can influence your career.
If you are new to LinkedIn, you will need to build a profile and start inviting people. This is very easy. Your profile is similar to a resume, but you have much greater flexibility in what you include and emphasize. Building your network is easy too. It is likely a lot of people you know are on Linked In. All you need to do is search for them and invite them to connect.
Linked In is relationship based. You need to link to people to get value. It may seem difficult to build a large network. Connecting to 45 million people may seem like an impossibility. Fortunately, you only need to connect to a few people to build a valuable network. The reason for this is simple. You have access to the profiles of anyone within three connections. The key is linking to people with large networks.
When I started with LinkedIn a few years ago, I added a couple dozen connections almost immediately. I then struggled to figure out who to invite. Most of my connections had only a few connections. My network was small, a few thousand profiles.
I was recruiting and met a candidate with a couple thousand contacts. I connected with him and instantly, my network increased to close to a million. I had access to key decision makers in hundreds of companies and an ability to research companies and people. It became clear that a huge network has tremendous value. I started looking for ways to increase my network.
There are a few easy steps to increase in your network quickly. If you set your profile up right, your network will build itself.
Step 1: Search for Open Networkers
You can do a keyword search for common email addresses. The easiest is gmail. By running a keyword search for the word gmail, you will get over four thousand people on Linked In who have put their gmail address in their profile. You can then invite them to connect to you. It doesn’t take many people in this group to grow your network substantially. Most will have hundreds or thousands of individual contacts.
Step 2: Join an Open Networking Group
I joined the LIONS, Linked In Open Networkers (Note: the last time I checked, their website was down.), a couple of years ago. When you join, you can download the list of LIONS, along with the email address of everyone. You can then upload this list to Linked In and invite everyone at once. I went from a hundred contacts to two thousand almost overnight. With the LIONS, you can then add your name to the list. You will receive a couple of invitations a day from this and your network will grow on its own. I’ve added several hundred connections over the last year just by accepting the invites I receive this way. I’ve been stuck around 2,600 contacts for several months and decided to download the lions list again. There were nearly a thousand new people on this list. I loaded it and sent invites to all of them. Because I am on the list, I found I was already connected to half of the people, and sent invites to the other 500. With the invitations, I will top 3,000 connections this week.
Step 3: Add Your Email Address to Your Profile
Make it easy for people to invite you. Add our email address to your profile. If you have a Gmail account, use it. It will make it easy for people to find you. The key is to help people connect directly to you.
Step 4: Promote Your Linked In Profile
If you have a website, blog or other social media profiles online, include your LinkedIn profile with instructions for how to connect. This will help generate a consistent stream of invitations coming directly to you. To connect to me, send an invitation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 5: Join Groups
A good way to gain access to larger networks is to join some LinkedIn groups. Most schools have alumni groups online. Professional organizations and companies also have groups established. I joined a few of them. In addition to the school, company and professional organization groups, I joined a couple open networker groups. I’m already connected to most of these people, so the groups didn’t do much for my connections. The reason I joined was to reinforce on my profile that I welcome invitations to connect.
If you follow these five steps, or even just a couple of them, you can build your network quickly and efficiently.