When you connect with someone on LinkedIn, don’t let that connection go to waste. Follow the tactics below to create strong acquaintances and influence them into important career or business partners.
Networking is not what it used to be. It probably isn’t what you’re thinking about or imagining in your mind right now. It’s not having an awkward talk in the elevator, it’s not going around the room and shaking people’s hands and it certainly isn’t passing around business cards; Many still have business cards but who actually uses business cards these days anyways?
Next time someone hands you a business card, pause, say “Hold on, let me send you an email now”, or “Is this your cellphone number? Let me send you text now and save your number on my phone”, and here’s an even one: “That’s a great card, let me find you on LinkedIn and connect”. In all these cases pull out your phone and perform any or all of the tasks above, right away, get that person to respond back, text back or accept your LinkedIn invitation.
Networking happens primarily in the digital world nowadays, and most number of daily professional connections are made on social media platform such as LinkedIn. But don’t let your networking efforts be based on adding random people from your News Feed couple times a week without any prior planning.
Networking relies on professional relationships based on career or business transactions or inquires — It’s about connecting with people who you’ve carefully pre-selected, and building those relationship with a purpose in mind and moving them towards a conversation where value is given and received. This is what creates a beneficial and lasting connection.
“Please don’t send someone a connection request and then leave them hanging for an introduction message about why you added them. Every time you send me a request to connect, it’s like knocking on my door; when I let you in I expect you to say Why you’re here. How can I help you?
Ok well I understand you’re normally busy, acting on an impulse or just get caught in the moment and following up with your connections slip your mind. The big problem is that Time Kills All Deals, so when you don’t follow up your connections are too far gone, back to stranger status. Fortunately I’ve seen thousands of these situations and I’ve studied them vigorously to find out why this happens. And the answer is very simple: The average person does not have a clear plan of action to network on LinkedIn. They are not sure exactly what they want at the end of the process, hence they don’t know where and how to start; and ofcourse everything in the middle is lost or cloudy.
So here’s a list of what I’ve learnt over the last 6 years using LinkedIn extensively every day to do my job as a recruiter and building my career coaching business. These tactics will hint you towards the fastest and most effective way you can connect with a prospect and take them through a process that will bring you closer and enable your new connections to better know you, like you and eventually trust you. Here are the tips:
1. Network With a Purpose: Figure out why you want to connect with someone. Find out what it is that you want to gain from that relationship (it’s ok to be selfish here) and then work your way back to get to the first step, which will be searching for that person’s profile on LinkedIn using a Boolean search technique and utilizing LinkedIn Filters to narrow down your list. I once heard that we enter this world twice; first is when we are born, and second is when we find out Why. Find your purpose and you’ll successful at networking.
2. Connect For a Reason: Know why you’re requesting to add someone to your network on LinkedIn and share that reason with them immediately. If you haven’t met them before, then start your invitation message by saying “we haven’t met before, the reason I’m reaching out is…”. Networking is a 2-way street, if you don’t care for the person in the other lane, you may collide at some point and trust me it won’t look pretty. Remember that everything that is happening around you, good or bad, is happening for a reason. That’s the nature of life, and so is the nature of Networking.
3. Always Offer Value: You don’t want people to feel like you’re wasting their time – Follow the Principle of Reciprocity: Give before you expect to receive. In social psychology, reciprocity is a social rule that says people should repay, in kind, what another person has provided for them; that is, people give back (reciprocate) the kind of treatment they have received from another. Here’s an example: If you want someone’s advice, start by identifying an area you can help them with, reach out and help.
4. Follow Up Frequently: There’s so much noise in and around us that we are constantly distracted, and if you’re not loud enough (and follow up frequent enough) you won’t get anyone’s attention. #1 success factor in my Networking Program is that I teach and train my clients on how to follow up with a prospect every 2-3 days without being a pest or ever setting off an alarm. One tip I can give you here is to make “follow-up” reminders on your calendar that recur every other day or on a weekly basis the latest. These remind you to reach out, but don’t do it in the way everyone else does; i.e. do not call someone every 2 days asking them for feedback on your resume or the sales proposal you’ve sent them. Follow up attempts should be done indirectly. On each touch/contact focus on adding value and providing insight.
5. Create Templates: Reaching out to people shouldn’t be a chore; it can be made easy to do regularly and appraised often. Create pre-written templates for multiple conversation and topics, while keeping space on each template for adding in you own personal touch. Every day take 30 minutes and reach out to 20 people on LinkedIn. You can even make more than 20 follow ups using templates. Save your templates in word/.doc format and underline those areas that can be changed easily when you need to use them and you’ll get things done very quickly. I can send you my favourite In-Direct Follow-up Method Template – Leave a comment below and request this template if you’re interested. It works like Magic!
6. Have Fun: Allocate time to these activities every day and make sure you’re having fun doing it otherwise you won’t continue to build your network and these networking tactics won’t become a habit. Interactions need to provide value to your connections, whether that’s sharing news or providing a laugh. People undervalue the benefits of humor or a casual conversation sharing latest news in the technology world. Just because your time is limited doesn’t mean you can’t help a few connections each day; and a personal message goes a long way too. It certainly feels special when someone takes a few minutes to specifically identify an article they know I would like, and send it over to me with a personal message. That’s normally the person I choose to spend lots more time with helping them back (reciprocating) with their networking challenges.