5 Ways to Develop Meaningful LinkedIn Connections

social media how toAre you on LinkedIn?  Did you setup an account there years ago but rarely leverage your contacts?  Perhaps you’re a LinkedIn regular, but you want to take your your efforts to the next level?

This article will reveal five ways you can build meaningful relationships on LinkedIn that will lead to business opportunities.

Is LinkedIn Not Working For You?

Up to this point, you’ve probably focused on building up your connections to grow your online influence and visibility. However, the greater challenge lies in actually going deeper with those connections that you’ve made online. If you’re simply connected to someone but have no further dialogue, what have you really accomplished?

The lifeline of new and existing business is relationships, and having meaningful conversations and in-person meetings are crucial in order to move from the connection phase into the relationship phase.

How can you leverage your professional presence on LinkedIn to connect on a deeper level with people and turn those connections into more meaningful relationships?

#1: Timing Is Everything

The time to go deeper with a connection is when you’re top of mind; after you’ve made a new connection, an introduction, received an introduction, answered a question, received an answer to a question and even after someone has commented on your status update or group discussion!

Action Step: All of these situations give you a reason to take the next step and initiate a related conversation. Give a compliment, ask a question, ask for a favor, ask for advice, or ask for an introduction soon after you’ve had a basic interaction with one of your first-, second- or third-degree connections. Conversations can lead to phone calls, ongoing dialogue and potentially even in-person meetings!

#2: Leveraging Events

If you’re paying attention to what your LinkedIn connections are up to, you may be able to see if they’re planning to attend an upcoming event if it is highlighted in the LinkedIn network. Look for events in your area that you’re also planning to attend or may possibly attend. Live events provide an excellent opportunity to meet and converse with online connections even if they’re second- or third-degree connections!

Action Step: Visit the event RSVP page, determine who’s attending and reach out to one or two of those individuals. You can either send a message (if you have a first-degree or group connection) or an InMailTM (if second or third degree, or no group connection) letting them know that you’ll also be in attendance and that you look forward to the opportunity to meet them in person. This is a very nonthreatening way to get face-to-face and go deeper with your connections of every degree.

rsvp

Find events in your area and reach out to connections that you can potentially meet in person

#3: Sync Geography With Travel

Perhaps you have clients in several geographical locations. Where does your network live and work? Under the “My Connections” tab, you can see the location of all of your connections. Let’s say you have a business trip planned to New York City to visit one client, but 15 connections are there whom you might also be able to get in front of. Or perhaps there are a number of connections within the same city whom you can bring together for a special lunch or dinner!

Action Step: Contact connections to let them know you’re going to be in their area soon and ask them if they’d like to meet for coffee or lunch so you can spend a few minutes learning more about their business. Or contact several connections who have complimentary businesses and live in the same area and invite them to a small-group networking dinner!

geography

Reach out to connections based on your travel in order to arrange for face-to-face meetings

#4: Ask for Advice

Most influential people don’t like to have their brains picked, but everyone loves to give advice whether they admit it or not! People love to give their opinions when asked, and asking for advice can actually endear you to people because it makes them feel important.

When you reach out to an influential connection, first explain who you are, reference a common thread, give a genuine compliment, ask for advice, and explain your reason for doing so. Always have a reason when asking for advice. You’ll be amazed at how you can open the door to building a deeper relationship around common personal and professional interests by asking for advice!

Action Step: For example: “Hi John, we connected recently here on LinkedIn and I noticed that you commented about the upcoming technology event taking place next month in Seattle. It appears that you’ve attended in the past and you really seem to have a grasp on the subject matter. I’d like to ask whether you think it’s a good fit for a marketing team to attend, as I am thinking about taking my company. Thanks so much in advance for sharing your thoughts!

#5: Be a Resource

Going beyond basic listening and serving as a resource to your connections is a powerful way to stay top of mind and develop more meaningful relationships on LinkedIn. Review status updates, discussion topics and questions from your connections frequently to determine where you can add value, provide insight or resources, or help promote your connection through a key introduction.

Once your connections see you as a resource, they will classify you as a valued relationship in their network. Acting as a resource can create opportunities to move from online social networking to offline conversations and face-to-face meetings.

Action Step: Look for opportunities to reply to connections’ status updates, questions or discussion topics publicly, and then send a more detailed message to them privately with additional tips and resources that can help accomplish their goals.

reply privately

Take time to reply privately to connections where you may be able to offer more detailed resources, tips, or guidance to them

If the purpose of social media is to build your network of connections, you must also think about how to engage those connections to turn them into true relationships. As you build solid relationships, you’ll create more opportunities for introductions and referrals into your own business.

There are plenty of resources available to help you grow your influence on LinkedIn. Here’s a great resource for learning more about the basics of LinkedIn and also some top marketing tips that can help you gain greater visibility on this powerful, professional social network.

Challenge yourself to go out and participate on LinkedIn with a strategic focus on getting to know your connections better, and use the steps mentioned in this article to help you generate conversations and face-to-face meetings. You stand to gain a greater return on your social networking investment if you can turn connections into relationships. Good luck!

What do you think about these tips? Have you tried any?  How is LinkedIn working for your business?  Please leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Stephanie Sammons

Stephanie Sammons is the Founder and CEO of Wired Advisor, where she teaches financial advisors and business professionals how to build digital influence to win clients. Other posts by »




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  • http://mai.do/ Gabriele Maidecchi

    Very valuable tips, despite my instinct of not liking business travels I have to agree it’s a fundamental way develop meaningful business relationships, even on Linkedin.

  • http://www.mikemerrill.com Mike D. Merrill

    Stephanie, good points here. I always try to connect to folks right after an event while the experience is top of mind to both parties. I also make notes in LinkedIn for the contact as to where we met, background, etc. LinkedIn is my new contact management system

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Great tip Mike on making notes about new connections in LinkedIn. I would love to be able to then sync those notes with my CRM.

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Gabriele I hear you on the travel! However, using the old “I’ll be in your area next week” has always been a sales tactic that helps to get you in front of people. You can even use that in your own back yard, just change the word “area” to “neighborhood”.

  • http://jeffogden.net/ Jeff Ogden

    Great tips, like making connections on geography. One tip I recommend is carefully using invitations to connect. Don’t use the standard one. Create a compelling story as to why this person ought to connect with you.

    Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
    Find New Customers
    http://www.findnewcustomers.com

  • Majella Wilkins

    Whole heartedly agree with your comment about meaningful connections. Its not the quantity of connections that counts but the quality.

    LinkedIn should be used for networking and opening opportunities to talk – it’s not instead of meetings and real time conversations.

  • http://aremorch.com/ Are Morch

    Great article Stephanie!

    LinkedIn has become one of my favorite Social Networks. LinkedIn really covers all aspect of Social Networking. And like Mike touch on here it is a brilliant for contact management. Plus you avoid all the noise as you sometimes can experience on Facebook.

    I think when more businesses discover some of the LinkedIn power that you touched on here then we will even see deeper interactions there.

    Only point I have mention a couple of time is that their location service really need an update. At least now I’m larger Memphis area. Was a while here in Florence Alabama. But still it is about an hour away from me. And I have missed out on some valuable opportunities due to this.

    I agree it would been an awesome option to sync notes, and maybe upload a calendar.

    Article is bookmarked and tweeted.

    Cheers.. Are

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Thanks Are! I agree about the location functionality with LinkedIn. Imagine the power if we could see an upgrade there!

  • mcanning

    I embraced the power of LinkedIn approx 6 years ago, long before many of my colleagues, and always do my best to be Be A Resource for those in my network. It is very rewarding when connecting those in my professional network. Unfortunately, I do not find that all those in my network share the same philosophy, perhaps having many connections is an ego thing and not a professional networking thing.

  • http://www.rch-phd.com Rick Harris

    Hi Jeff,
    You struck a nerve with me on not using that standard request. When I get one of those, even from a colleague, I think “ho-hum…just building his/her network…don’t expect much action from this relationship.” One point about the “compelling story”. In my experience a sentence can convey a compelling story; it doesn’t have to be long.

  • http://www.rch-phd.com Rick Harris

    Hi Stephanie,
    I love these tips. I would add another one: 6. Make sure you do 1-5. I take for granted that I know the people in my network, so I never check for location when I’m going to be someplace. I just checked “Boston” (which is my area) and I was surprised at how many people had slipped my mind. Maybe that’s a 7th: scroll through your contacts from time to time. Thanks.

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Agreed. Crafting a personalized invitation is really a must in LinkedIn.

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Great thanks for adding those tips Rick!

  • http://jeffogden.net/ Jeff Ogden

    Thanks Rick. Take your time and personalize everything you do. It pays huge dividends.

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Yes Majella, I believe you have to take these online connections offline if possible. Getting face to face is still really important.

  • http://pervarakapadiaatmoney.blogspot.com/ Pervara Kapadia

    Thanks Stephanie for this information

    Regards
    Pervara

  • http://www.bluebanana.co.nz Linda Coles @ Blue Banana 20

    Thanks Stephanie, Linkedin is very much an underused tool.
    Take a look at this 2min video on using Linkedin productively. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12f81ppds2Q

    Looking forward to your next article.

  • http://www.thomasbrooke.com Nicola

    Great info. Couldn’t agree more about the personalization aspect. So much of the key to success in social networking is about being focused and authentic in one’s engagement, not self serving – and it’s not a formula. I think that is particularly true when it comes to the important step of an invitation request. It’s amazing how many people waste a *great* opportunity by imputing telepathic powers to the recipient as to why they have been invited to connect. I pretty much live on LinkedIn, and value my network there highly; in my contact settings, I ask people to please just tell me why they are interested in connecting, yet more than half the invitations I receive lack that door-opening, ice-breaking personal touch. I guess, LinkedIn, like every other social media channel, is a means ot an end and it never works right if you think of it as being an end in itself.

    One idea on the invitation topic: I usually reach out to people first via a group or an InMail to introduce myself. I let them know I am interested in connecting but that I don’t like to send out invitations unless I know they are welcome. That usually opens a good conversation, and often elicits an invitation from the other party.

    Thanks again for a great post.

  • http://www.mikepedersen.com Mike Pedersen

    This is good stuff, since I have been focusing on LinkedIn but not seeming to get anywhere. I think people are getting “pitched” so much, they are a little apprehensive to allow a conversation to take place. I like the asking for advice as a way to open them up, I will try that asap.

    Thanks,
    Mike

    P.S. I am at http://www.linked.com/in/mikepedersen (email is mikepedersen@cox.net) if you’d like to make a connection, that’d be cool.

  • http://twitter.com/jonathan92591 Jonathan Thompson

    Great advice! I’ll admit, I haven’t really tried to tap into the power of LinkedIn. I think I’m going to set aside 5 minutes a day to start micromanaging my account.

  • http://www.vocus.com/ Stacey Miller

    Linkedin is definitely a powerful professional networking tool and these tips really helped me to see its potential–it is a bit longform and slow moving sometimes, but the quality of professional relationships that can be formed on Linkedin are unsurpassed in my opinion. Great utilization strategies.
    –Stacey Acevero @PRWeb http://www.prweb.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/elainebullin Elaine Bullin

    Thanks to everyone for all the great information for using Linkedln more efficiently. I have been using it for some time but just recently started to really get into seeing what all it has to offer.

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Nicola good point. I think it’s an effective strategy to first have dialogue with a “potential” connection before actually sending an invite to connect, especially if you do not know them personally.

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Thanks Mike would love to connect there! You are correct, people are tired of getting pitched. We’ve got to be creative and figure out ways to help people achieve their goals first. This is where positioning yourself as a resource and adding value to the conversation can really help.

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Great comments you all! With over 75 million professionals, LinkedIn has tremendous opportunity to help you expand your network. In addition, the ability to see past your first degree connections opens the door to warm introductions, something that is key in building new relationships. Keep exploring, and continue to visit Social Media Explorer to learn more about how to leverage the power of LinkedIn!

  • http://www.emotionalintelligenceaus.com/ Jenniw333

    Great tips! I always learn something new from you and your authors Mike. LinkedIn has been great for me, giving me speaking work and enhancing my knowledge and networks. I like to contribute too, to give back. Here in Adelaide, South Australia, we have a group that meets face to face every now and then for networking too.

    Jenni Wright
    http://www.emotionalintelligenceaus.com/

  • Neal

    OK so I am new to all of this!!! What are you referring to by crafting a personalized invitation?

  • http://jeffogden.net/ Jeff Ogden

    Linkedin has a standard message “Neal would like to connect to you on Linkedin.” Lousy.

    Personalisation means answering the readers questions:
    1) Who is Neal?
    2) Why does Neal want to connect with me?
    3) Why is it a good idea for me to connect with Neal?

    Answer those three questions and almost anyone will accept your connection request.

    Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
    Find New Customers “Lead Generation Made Simpl”
    http://www.findnewcustomers.com

  • http://www.FindYourFooting.com Silvia Chang

    LinkedIn can certainly be useful in many ways. My business partner and I have used it to help us to increase traffic on our brand new website, http://www.FindYourFooting.com. We have joined relevant groups and have attended the local meetings of the groups to get the word out about our site (as well as to get input). This has been a great tool, as you mentioned, in making critical connections for us!

  • Ajay Vijh

    Thank you all, it’s very educating to know how one could engage within and outside one’s network. I had come to believe linkedin as a directory to find and know a bit about people or an alternate to monster.com frequented by HR executives and job seekers. Honestly it is my primary reason to frequent linkedin to search for a job, which I am currently doing. Now, I guess I’m going to explore building more engaging network.

  • http://www.BusinessBlogsHub.com BusinessBlogs

    Here is a good (and short) video on the power of LinkedIn for connecting with key players NOT tire-kickers http://businessblogs.co.nz/2010/09/22/a-fine-story-on-using-linkedin-productively/

  • http://www.realtor.com/advice/for-pros Suzanne Roy

    Working with Realtors throughout the US and Canada, I have often struggled to advise them on how to utilize LinkedIN to further their business. The tip “I’ll be in your neighborhood…” is a great one for this industry and one that I will suggest my clients use moving forward.

  • Harry J Tucci Jr

    Great tips here!!! I like the idea of following the RSVPs for events … have not done that yet. I do use the geography feature to try and network with my connections while traveling and i do participate in discussions and add my insight and it has worked nicely to my advantage. All in all 5 easy things to do that will not add much time to your day but will definitely reap rewards. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Yehoshua

    Great Tips, especially the one about asking advice. When I was building my network on linkedin, I would contact as many as 20 people a day and ask them for advice in my field. I managed to develop a very meaningful relationship with many of those that responded to me, which led to many job offers later on in the future.

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    It is important how you phrase that question because again, people LOVE to give their opinions. Using the “advice” tactic works better than “can I pick your brain” I have found!

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Great Harry! Hope you have some success with the RSVP’s.

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Hi Suzanne it tends to be a non-threatening tactic as a way to get in front of people. The more face to face opportunities you have, the more likely you can close the sale

  • http://www.longtermcareinsuranceonly.com Bri

    Wow this is great adice. I have been confused as to what to do with my LinkedIn accounts but this really helps

  • 3shipsmedia

    These are great tips, especially the idea of leveraging events and using them to meet with online connections. Now that more activities are moving online, it’s getting harder for those stuck in the rising unemployment rate to compete. It’s sometimes even harder for companies to find qualified resumes through generic career websites like Monster. Utilizing connections and friendships through social networks is a source not to be undervalued. http://bit.ly/bG7vUg

  • http://theapptimes.com Editor

    Very interesting post Stephanie. I’m yet to explore the site yet. Linked IN is a new area for me. THis will be a good starting point for me.

  • LocalInternetMarketingServices

    I have tons of people that connect with me on LinkedIn, but never had the time to monetize this. Good tips Stepahnie!

  • Allen Mireles

    Stephanie, what a helpful post. So many of us are under utilizing LinkedIn; your tips provide easy to follow reminders. And, they can be fit into a busy schedule. Yay! Also enjoyed and appreciated the ensuing comments and your replies.

    I use LinkedIn quite often but have neglected certain aspects of it that you highlight. The times I have asked questions I have received some really helpful responses and have been directed to people who have expertise in those areas. Wonderful.

    I wonder though, has anyone else experienced any glitches in the site recently? I have been unable to use the Twitter tool to follow people from LinkedIn, as one example of a glitch I have struggled with.

    Also wanted to mention a new group that is really helpful for anyone who is blogging and has questions or is looking for a place to share information. Check out Mack Collier’s #blogchat group on LinkedIn. good stuff there.

  • Klaudia

    Stephanie – thank you so much for sharing those information with us.
    Step by step how to look and then re-organize the linked in profile !
    thank you!

  • Jehanzaib Riffat

    linkendin is amazing….. no doubt about it and the best part is u have full oppertunity to approch all kind of enterpenure&managment
    i am a bit new user of linkedin and really want to learn the best use of this amazing social networking moreover take full benefit of this kind of social networking……………….

    anybodys there to guide me & support me??

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Hi Allen, thanks for the nice comments. I have not experienced any glitches with LinkedIn. Also thanks for the group suggestion!

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    You can get started by clicking on some of the links in the article to other posts on Social Media Examiner that review additional strategies and also the basics!

  • http://brandyousocial.com Karl Sly

    Stephanie, great post! Networking on Linked in is a topic many professionals don’t quite understand. You mentioned some great tips and it was well worded. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Athar

    Nicola such a great point you made , i must say this is better way of going ahead. Thanks

  • Cynthiarodriguez2

    This is a great article and I am really glad I came across it. I am new to LinkedIn and would really like to utilize it to my advantage. I don’t own a business but I am looking to network for new opportunites, expand my options and to meet people who are ambitious and goal oriented. This article has helped me realize the importance of LinkedIn and how to make it work for me and others. Thanks for the advice, it will go a long way!

  • Amir Homayoun Rafizadeh

    Great post for the business community specially those who are under utilizing LinkedIn. Very few people understand how to use it. Some great tips from you! Thanks for sharing.

    I have been a big LinkedIn user from the very start but a little disappointed on how it is being used these days just to “connect” with people. Unlike other platforms of social media I believe you cant be connected to 70,000 people and really be able to work with all of them. Its become the race to 70,000 connections for people without knowing anything about their network, background and experience.

    Having 250 connections (strong ones) and knowing them very well, produces more business and creates deeper and meaningful relationships than having 70,000 connections.

    Just my 2 cents :)

  • http://www.sixfigurerenegade.com Peter dunin

    Fantastic tips and advice,many thanks for sharing this useful information.

  • Magdalagrace

    I am new to linkin and realize now how important it can be. Good tips. Thanks

  • Jim Janssen

    Far more important tips would be to offer assistance to their endeavors, lend support to their challenges, show value to improving their business, build a partnership to mutually grow in the respective businesses, quote valuable and effective business tools that have recently brought success to others, and build trust by showing genuine concern; ie, perhaps purchasing one of the products offered by your friends business.
    There are a myriad of tips and ideas for establishing a relationship but the most important tip is “contact them”. Nothing happens until someone contacts someone. The kiss of failure is to just silently sit doing nothing.
    Hope this helps. Just some thoughts I want to share.

  • Jim Janssen

    Very very true A Homayoun, Thanks for sharing that great tip.

  • TunisDesign

    Really nice advices. In business it’s really essential to strenghten old contact and create new ones. What is more I agree, everybody likes to give advices, lets say everybody likes to feel like an expert in their field… Once again cool blog & if u are interested in socialmedia and web topic,I encourage to visit my blog http://www.tunisdesign.com/blog

  • http://twitter.com/MacintJB J-B. de Lartigue

    Hello Stephanie,
    I enjoyed this post – it’s both practical and candid. I appreciate the fact that you are looking at an on line tool, but then suggesting how, if used in the right way, it might lead to real life interaction – calls, face to face meetings.
    http://www.macintblog.com/2010/09/breaking-down-boundaries-connecting.html
    and
    http://www.macintnetworlding.com/
    Thanks! JB

  • http://www.brickworkindia.com/virtual-assistant Virtual Assistant

    Hi Stephanie, the post is to the point, and you have written it so well, while reading I feel you are talking to me.

  • http://www.tigardorhomes.com Wayne Pruner

    Thanks for the tips. I am new to Linkedin and want to start out right.

  • http://www.tigardorhomes.com Wayne Pruner

    Thanks for the tips. I am new to Linkedin and want to start out right.

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