You’ve got rid of the fear of embarrassment and refusal to put yourself out there, and now you’re ready to learn how to network on LinkedIn. You’re ready to build your professional network level, secure job opportunities, and advance your career.
There is only one problem. Once you’ve met the person (or people) you want to connect with, you’re not sure about the proper procedure. Do you come to a personal or straightforward location? Should you take advantage of shared contacts in early access? Do you want to ask permission before sending the contacts you want to contact?
There is a lot to think about. However, a good place to start is with the goal of networking, which is to establish fruitful relationships for the job or business.
With that in mind, there is no right or wrong way to network on LinkedIn and build valuable links, but here are the best practices. And, many of these are experienced strategies that professional speakers, like me, use to connect with their audiences.
As you learn to network on LinkedIn, here are some things you should always do, and several things you should always avoid.
Read the Room
It’s a good idea to do a little research on LinkedIn before you start reaching out to anyone. You don’t have to go far beyond their LinkedIn profile to get valuable Intel.
Take a look at the top of their page. Is it informal or scholarly? Does it include personal information or is it strictly professional? Is the profile picture serious or light? Understanding the accent can help you decide which accent you should use in your message.
Social science research shows that when people encounter others who treat themselves the same way, they will be liked more, and, like, support. Professional speakers will often read before the room to assess the mood and energy level of the audience. They do this so that they can meet the audience where they are before the audience leaves.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to change yourself to make connections. However, at least initially, meeting someone’s profile later can help you get started in the relationship-building process. But, as you learn to network on LinkedIn, your research (and the use of similarities – attractiveness) should not stop judging the tone.
Find a Shared Connection
As you read a person’s profile, you should be on the lookout for common contacts or common affiliations. Did you attend that conference? Are you both graduates of the same university? Do you follow like-minded leaders or volunteers for the same group?
Sometimes a mutual contact is a mutual friend or partner. These relationships are important because they help build trust, and what is a relationship without trust? As a professional speaker, I will do a lot of research before I get to this stage to better understand my audience so that I can effectively highlight the common links along the way to building relationships.
Highlighting shared contacts in your communication will create a sense of familiarity. Familiarity with LinkedIn networking is important because it builds trust.
Make the Outreach about Them
Think about the last time you received an email or talked to someone, and the person on the other end couldn’t stop talking about you. Even though the conversation makes them feel good, you are likely to be angry or interested. This is because we are basically wired to connect, not control.
Harvard neuroscientists have even discovered that talking about yourself gives the brain the same happy gestures as food or money.
We review whether a connection is valuable, in part, by determining whether it offers a two-way engagement and invites exchange. That’s why professional speakers, whose job it is to connect with their audience, deliberately spend less time talking about themselves than listening to their audience. As well as talking about who you are and what you do, you should avoid filling out a full LinkedIn message.
Instead, focus on the person you are hoping to reach. However, the point of networking is to build a relationship, not a monopoly.
As you learn to network on LinkedIn, you can find out more about your contacts by asking them great questions. Questions not only help you gain information and insight but also help move the conversation forward and move from online to offline networking.
Ask for Permission
If the purpose of your networking on LinkedIn is to find customers for your products or services, you may want to take the important step of asking permission before sending links or literature. Asking for permission not only invites engagement but also creates a shopping opportunity.
Would it be okay if I sent you an article about three ways that X Products can help increase your team’s productivity?
Agreeing with the person you’re networking with lets you know that person is free, attentive, and, in anticipation of what you share. Professional speakers often ask their audience for permission to share advice in a presentation. Doing so improves the contract, the shared control, and the audience experience.
DON’T Be Afraid to Follow up
If your networking efforts don’t immediately result in a conversation or other exchange, don’t be afraid to follow. Sending the same message at the same time in time cannot be translated as a lack of interest in this regard. It can only be a bad time.
Before you double-check, review your initial access to see if you have followed the tips outlined here. If not, reassure your point before hitting before sending. Also, if they give you practical advice, be sure to follow through on your contacts.
Re-examining them to find out if you have applied their feedback helps to make the relationship more beneficial to both parties.
The Bottom Line
It takes trial and error to learn how to network on LinkedIn, and eventually you get your flow, but, you don’t have to start from scratch. Professional speakers also consider strategies for connecting with your audience that you think LinkedIn interacts with. Before contacting anyone, be sure to read their profile before reaching out to them, as it contains valuable pieces of information that can help you tailor your perspective.
If your networking goals include searching for customers for your product or service, don’t bombard potential contacts with the chat to make sure it’s self-serving. At the end of the day, remember this: Value it for everyone in any relationship, even LinkedIn.