May 26, 2010

A Proven Technique To Expand Your LinkedIn Network

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LinkedIn gives you an easy way to build your network once you've built your profile.

LinkedIn shows you people you may know or want to know. I check their profiles and send an invitation to connect if they have
  • a photo (to help identify them)
  • a reasonable profile (a decent summary and details of what they've accomplished)
  • recommendations (proof they're generous)
  • testimonials (proof they're good)
My business focus is on nearby accountants, lawyers and philanthropic fundraisers. My broader personal focus is on good people anywhere in the world, regardless of what they do. You'll see this if we're connected.

Reaching out proactively works well. If you're in a business ranked low in trust, honesty or ethics, results will suffer --- unless you set yourself apart.

My Invitation

Here's an actual invitation I sent with the name changed.
Hi Elmo. LinkedIn says we may know each other, which I doubt. Maybe it's because we share contacts?

Rather than question LinkedIn's algorithm, I thought I'd send you an invite :)

If you're open to it, we can connect here.

Before deciding to accept, your potential connection probably investigates you. So you need a proper LinkedIn profile first. Developing one takes time but is good free marketing.

Elmo's Reply

Elmo refused to connect but took the time to explain why.
It looks like we're 3rd-level connections only (people I know, know people you know --- i.e. our contacts share contacts!), so probably not worth setting up a link.  I don't really use LinkedIn much anyway.

All the best,

The idea behind six degrees of separation is that you want to connect to people outside your normal circle.

My Reply

Here's my unusually long reply.
Hi Elmo. Thanks for your reply. I hadn't thought about the level of connection before. That's a good point. That might matter unless you see networking as a form of philanthropy.

We're judged by the company we keep. I'm simply looking for people I would not be embarrassed to have as a contact. That may not seem like a demanding criterion but I do review the profiles carefully. Your profile is better than average. It's well-written but lacks testimonials and a professional photo. Besides sharing contacts, we have [other stuff in common]. Even so, days elapsed before I sent you an invitation.

If you were able to see my contacts, you'd see wide diversity. We can all market better and LinkedIn is essential (helps us make better first impressions without being there). I help my network improve as a free gift. What's in it for me? Helping others without expectation of a return builds my skills (problem-solving, communication, empathy). This generosity even leads to more revenue (though rarely from the people I help).

Although we're strangers, your email helped me understand objections that others may have to networking. You also helped me understand myself better. That's valuable and has given me ideas that may warrant a blog post.

Thanks again for taking the time to explain your thoughts. All the best with your marketing.


The value in a network comes from who knows you (and who wants to know you). Sometimes you'll find a closed door. How open is yours?


PS Yesterday a stranger in a distant city asked to connect on LinkedIn. We'll probably never meet or do any business together. After reviewing their profile, I said yes.

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