Our LinkedIn Contacts Network is the second pillar of Linkedin, after our personal profile.
These are our 1st connections. The people we have most contact with through LinkedIn.
And it is like having our address book on LinkedIn. But it’s so much more than that.
- Linkedin notifies us about (some of) the content they create and share, creating engagement opportunities
- When we write posts and articles they may see them in their feed, so we can provide value to them
- We can send them messages through LinkedIn, which can be more effective than sending an email
- We are notified about their changes such as new jobs, work anniversaries and more
- When we want to reach out to a new person we can see who are the mutual contacts for an introduction.
- And we can see their contact details – if they’ve added them
There are other reasons and benefits to having a strong LinkedIn Contacts Network.
But a strong network doesn’t happen by accident. It take some planning and concerted activity to build up a strong network of contacts on LinkedIn.
Who should I include in my LinkedIn Contacts Network?
Our advice is to focus on the following FIVE groups of people as the core of your network:
- VIPs, Role Models and Influencers – see section below.
- Clients and Customers – so we can build relationships and add value after the sale
- Prospects – so we can develop a multi-level relationship before the sale
- Colleagues & ex-colleagues – people who should know, like and trust us who may move to different companies
- Peers, partners and introducers – collaboration is valuable and LinkedIn is an ideal place to develop foundations for this
In principle you should know these people before you connect. In practice that restricts the value of LinkedIn as a Business Development tool.
Connecting with VIPs, Influencers and Role Models
There is real value in identifying and connecting with significant people on LinkedIn.
Significant is a broad term so let’s consider some of the aims and benefits:
- These people will add credibility to your profile, if/when people see them as shared connections between you,
- They will extend your network to 2nd and 3rd levels rapidly as they are probably very well connected
- They probably create topical content that you can comment into and share and get good visibility
- Their profiles provide valuable sign-posting to Skills, LinkedIn Groups, Articles, and other influential people
So who might they be? Here are some suggestions:
- Speakers at conferences and trade shows in your sector or your prospects sector(s)
- Leaders of professional associations, trade bodies,
- Managers and administrators of LinkedIn Groups
- Thought leaders in the LinkedIn Influencer program
Several years ago I reached out to 12 of the top Sales Directors in the UK and sent a personal connection request. They all connected, and I was able to have an email dialogue will most of them, and phone calls with some. This accelerated my network growth considerably.
How do I build my LinkedIn Contact Network?
A good starting point is to work through your current address book(s), email address file, CRM list and similar. This will give you a start with clients, customers, colleagues etc. who are most likely people who already Know, Like and Trust you.
LinkedIn will prompt you with suggestions of people you may know, based on companies you worked for, education, skills etc. The more background information in your profile the better the suggestions LinkedIn will provide. However it can’t read our minds, and many suggestions will be irrelevant.
You may be prompted to connect your email system to LinkedIn. Be cautious if you do, as you may end up sending an invite to connect to everyone in your email systems if you’re not very careful.
How to respond to Invitations to Connect?
Inevitably you’ll receive many requests to connect. Some people are cautious initially and reject (or ignore) all those from people they don’t know.
But would you go to a networking meeting and refuse to talk to anyone you didn’t previously know? Probably not.
So, it’s worth developing some criteria to decide which invitations to accept, such as:
- is the invitation personalised – is there a message with a valid reason given?
- Are they in your sector, or the sector you’re prospecting into?
- Are they in your geographic location or territory?
- Do you have several mutual contacts?
If there is some common ground then you may benefit from accepting their invitation. And it’s a good move to send a message to see if they can help you.
How many LinkedIn Connections should I have in my Network?
There’s no right answer to this question. However getting to 500 connections is a good target to aim at for most experienced professionals.
- 500 gives a reasonable critical mass – of people to read your content and to read theirs
- It also means you have a better chance of showing up in searches done by others, and seeing more people in your search results.
- And you’ll have more people who are 2nd connections who you can invite to connect, to grow your LinkedIn Contacts Network even further, especially if you want to reach out to prospects.
And there’s always the option to Remove a Connection if they are troublesome, or to Hide certain content if it is becomes annoying.
If you’d like to have a chat about building your network then why not book a call via the banner below.