Why it is important
As you have read in many of my posts including my post about Joining the world of elite Super Connectors. I am a huge fan, if done right, of face to face networking.
However, with all the technology literally at our fingertips, there is a global network available for you to connect with across the other side of the world and one of the most powerful platforms to do that with is LinkedIn.
With the right process in place, you can quickly grow your network of well connected people, with whom you can build strong and engaged relationships. A relationship in which you can help them and they can help you grow your business.
I use a very simple process which I am going to talk you through in this post.
Remember this is about building a strong network for yourself of valuable relationships and not a numbers game.
These are some phenomenal stats because it is still one of the leaders when it comes to online connecting.
- LinkedIn has over 530 million members
- 70% of users are outside the US
- Profiles with professional headshots get 14 times more profile views
- Average number of connections per user is 400
- Total monthly active users 250 million
- There are 2 new LinkedIn members per second
To get started
Firstly you need to understand what you want to achieve from this activity because this needs to become a daily/weekly/monthly activity.
How many people do you want to connect with each week?
How many people are you currently connected to?
What type of people do you want to connect with?
I recently received a lovely message, through LinkedIn, from someone who had been inspired by my Joining the elite world of super connectors, and she had challenged herself to connect with 30 people a day for 30 days.
It is always important to know where you are starting from and where you would like to end up.
Create something to send
When I make a connection I like to add a document that I attach to send to them on follow up. This will all be explained in the process but you need to get this ready prior to starting.
You can either create a document which shows a small number of case studies or like one of my clients, she had created a white paper that and she now sends that as part of their process.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, but make sure that it is professional. It doesn’t have to be long, just something that shows what you are about with your business.
Find a tracker
Because you are going to be dealing with large numbers of people who will respond at different speeds you need to keep track of where you are with each person at each point.
I use an app called Trello in order to keep track. This is a very easy to use free project management tool, that can be used on all your devices.
But if Trello is not for you, then you can use a spreadsheet, Evernote or put it on a piece of paper.
Whatever you chose I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep track because even if you set yourself a goal of 10 per day within a month there are a couple of hundred connections you are trying to keep track of.
Once you decide your tracker you need to set it up. These are the headers you need to add.
- To Contact
- Connection Request Sent
- Connection Accepted
- Follow up message sent
- 1-1 Arranged
- Added to CRM
- Request Deleted
Keep in a safe place and keep it up to date.
Finding your contacts
The first rule to follow is you are looking for 2nd connections only. This means you have some mutual connections in common which you are going to use when you send your connection request.
You have now decided how many people you are going to connect with each day or each week, whether it is ten or 100 you need to find them.
LinkedIn has a very powerful search function and if you are not sure who to connect with this is a great place to start.
Here are just some of the things you can search on
- Where in the Country/World
- Position in the company
- What type of job do they do
So you could look create a search for VP, Marketing experts in the Banking industry.
Using the connections you already have is a great way to create the six degrees of separation. Chances are because you are already connected it means that they probably have some more connections that you think could be valuable. Go to your connections and if they have not secured their connections you are free to look at their lists. The list will show you all the second connections.
If someone has locked their connections down, another way to find some useful connections in common is to go to their endorsements. You will be able to access the list of connections of people who have endorsed them.
One final way is to look to see what LinkedIn offers you. After various actions on LinkedIn, they offer people who could become a potential connection.
Don’t be afraid of influencers
I want to make this clear before you move forward. Don’t be intimidated by influencers or people you consider too senior to connect with. You have something valuable to offer, something valuable to say. Don’t think you are worth any less to connect with than anyone else. Build your connections and make your network as powerful as you can.
In order to make this part of your daily process, you need to control the amount of time you spend on it. In my blog post ‘Time Blocking your Day’.
Work out how much time you are prepared to dedicate to this and then make sure you stick to it so it doesn’t become a really time consuming activity. Make sure within the time blocking you allow for the admin that is involved in this.
You have your document in place, your tracker set up and you have a good idea of who you want to connect with. So let’s start.
Step 1 – To Contact
On your tracker, every time a new name comes up or that you search for and find put the name of the person under the header. To Contact on your tracker.
Make it a habit of this part of the process to add the names to your tracker as soon as you come across them.
Step 2 – Send a connection request
Always, always, always you must bear in mind that you are trying to build a relationship. When you send a connection request you are trying to sell to them, you are looking to engage with them in the right way.
When you send a connection request, don’t just hit the connect button. You need to ensure that you send a message along with your request to connect.
I do this as a block. If I have a list of 10 or 20 people I want to connect with I will write a fairly generic message that I can copy and paste and then personalise where relevant.
My message will be something along the lines of…..
I see that we have a few connections in common, so it would be great to be connected with you so I can find out more about what you do.
Enjoy your day
Remember there is a character count limit on these messages so you can’t write too much. Keep it simple and keep it about them.
Once you have sent the connection request make sure you update your tracker.
Step 3 – Connection Accepted
This is a short part of the step because it depends on where you are in your time blocking and what activities you assign yourself each day.
But you want to keep track of, from the connection requests you send who accepts so make sure you update your tracker at this point.
Step 4 – Follow up message sent
Always, always, always send a follow up message, but again always, always, always make it about them.
There are different directions I go in this step, depending on who the connection is. Some I want to slowly grow the relationship with, whereas others I am keen to arrange a one to one. So the message I semay beybe slightly different.
Here are an example of the messages that I would send and this is where your case study or white paper document will come into play.
Thank you so much for connecting with me. It would be great to know more about you and your work as it seems really interesting.
If you would like to arrange a Skype call that would be excellent, please let me know if that would be of interest to you.
I have attached some case studies so you can get a more details about what I do.
Enjoy the rest of your week
Thank you so much for connecting with me. It would be great to know more about you and your work.
If there is anything I can help you with or anyone in my network I can connect you with please let me know.
I have attached some case studies so you can get more details about the work I do
Enjoy the rest of your week
So you can see with the message I have shown interest in them and the document is for them to read at their own pace if they want to but I do not in anyway try and sell to them.
Make sure you update your tracker to indicate that the follow up message has been sent.
Step 5 – 1-1 Arranged
If you receive a message back to arrange a one to one, then go ahead and arrange a Skype call with them or even a face to face. This is such a powerful way to connect to people and find out more about them.
Allow time in your schedule to be able to take these 1-1s. I have found the best to approach these meetings, is “how can I help this person?” “Who can I connect them with”.
Make sure you update your tracker at this point.
Step 6 – Add to CRM
Once I have spoken to a connection I then add them to my CRM and then use that process to continue my relationship with them. I only use this step in the process if I have had that 1-1 contact with them.
Make sure you update your tracker.
Step 7 – Delete Request
Sometimes people will not come back to you and because, although people don’t seem to know what it is, LinkedIn does have a limit on the number of requests you send, it is prudent to do a little admin and delete these requests.
I keep them on my tracker under this heading for a while so that I don’t resend a request. I may in the future but I like to ensure a decent amount of time has passed before I do.
Build the relationship
So this is the process I used to grow my network. However, there is a lot more to building the relationship than a couple of messages.
So as part of your weekly routines it is important to set aside a little time to be a Super Connector and see how you can help others and who you can connect with whom. This is a big part of what I love to do. Connecting people who I know can create something special is inspiring to me.
So you have my process, you may want to add to it or take steps away but it is well worth the commitment of your time to grow a powerful network.