How Connecting Your LinkedIn Contacts Builds Social Influence

social media how toAre you wondering how to leverage your presence on LinkedIn to build social influence?

Regularly updating your status, joining and participating in groups and answering questions is just the start.

There are also a number of ways to build deeper relationships with your connections on LinkedIn. I’m going to ask you to shift your thinking and consider the following:

Spend some time on LinkedIn connecting your contacts.

If you truly want to build social influence with your connections and become more valuable to them, dedicating time to strategically helping others can elevate your “social” status.

People want to be connected with a connector! Connectors are considered valuable resources because they’re genuinely interested and engaged in helping others succeed.

Working to connect your connections on LinkedIn not only helps you become a more influential person, you’ll also benefit from triggering the rule of reciprocity. Essentially, the rule of reciprocity states that when you do something that can benefit someone else, you’re making a psychological deposit with that person and he or she will feel obligated to repay the favor.

LinkedIn is the perfect environment in which to put the rule of reciprocity to use.

Why? Mostly, the network is transparent. LinkedIn members are sharing not only information about their professional background, skills, and experience, but they’re also sharing personal hobbies and interests. Never before have you been able to see all of these details about your professional network laid out right in front of you. The power of the LinkedIn network provides a compelling opportunity to grow your business.

A 3-Step Process for Connecting Your Connections on LinkedIn

#1: Analyze Your First-Degree Connections

Here’s a big-picture exercise that will get you thinking about who you know, what’s important to the people you know and who should know one other within your LinkedIn contacts.

Go to the Advanced People Search tool within LinkedIn. Under the “Relationship” section on the left, filter for your first-degree connections only (see image below).

This will bring up a list of all of your first-degree connections. Make sure to choose “Expanded View” to see more details about your connections within this search. A free LinkedIn account will show you up to 100 profile results per search.

The Advanced Search tool is located at the top right of your profile page.

Filter for first-degree connections.

Once you’ve pulled up the search results, scroll slowly through your entire list of first-degree connections, looking closely at faces and titles. Simply spending some time scanning through this list of connections can help trigger and uncover common ground among your connections that you may not have thought about. Take notes as you go through this process.

Next, identify your 10 best business relationships from this list and jot them down. Also add the 10 most influential people you’re connected with (there may be some overlap). Now it’s time to analyze your first-degree list of best relationships and top influencers.

Are there similar personality types? Do any of the career and business paths of your connections intersect or have complementary characteristics (i.e., could you connect an executive leadership coach with an executive, or an entrepreneur with a venture capitalist)? Whom can they benefit from knowing, being connected to, or working with on your list? Do any of these individuals live in the same geographic area? Do any of them have similar personal interests or belong to the same LinkedIn Groups or outside organizations?

Unfortunately there is no quick way to conduct this in-depth search other than to view the profiles manually and identify all the potential links. However, it will be well worth your time! Bringing together your best relationships with your top influencers is a very powerful exercise and you should get to know as much as you can about these individuals.

An example in action—connecting the dots:

John owns his own technology firm and Sam is a financial professional. They live in different states but they’re my first-degree connections. Through my relationships with these two individuals I’ve learned that they’re both Ironman triathletes who blog about their triathlon training and experiences, and they both strive for their personal best in business and in life. In my mind, these two must know each other and there could certainly be an opportunity for them to do business together as well.

Both John and Sam were extremely grateful for the introduction and were thrilled to meet a like-minded acquaintance with a passion for competing in triathlons. In this example, I was able to come up with this mutually beneficial connection by simply scanning through my first-degree connections and concentrating on what I know about each person, both personally and professionally. It’s all about connecting the dots!

#2: Filter Your First-Degree Search by Geography, Industry and/or Keywords

This time, start your Advanced LinkedIn search for first-degree connections, but run some filters. We’ll start by filtering your search results for geography and get more specific from there.

Using the Geography filter, choose the location where you have the most connections. Now study these profiles and go through the same questions listed in exercise #1. Who in this group of connections should be connected to one other and why? Can you see any professional common threads among those professionals who live in your area?

Now let’s narrow it down further and apply some filters for industry. First, view your connections who work in the same industries. Are there any opportunities for these individuals to benefit from networking with industry peers? Next, check the boxes for a handful of industries that could be complementary (i.e., financial and legal, marketing and design). Are there opportunities to connect any of these individuals where it could be mutually beneficial from a business standpoint?

Finally, let’s narrow it down even further by applying a keyword filter that describes a hobby or interest. The strongest ties are those that center on personal interests. The Keyword search box will be at the top left of your Advanced Search screen. If you need help coming up with a keyword for personal interests, look at your own interests that you’ve listed on your profile and use one of those words or phrases. What are you interested in and passionate about? What are your best connections interested in and passionate about?

An example in action—personal interests are powerful:

I’ve got about 130 professional LinkedIn connections in Dallas where I live. After I’ve run the first two filters (location and industry), I’ve got a list of 37 people whom I feel would benefit from being connected on a professional level. I then decided to run a keyword filter for the word “golf,” and that narrowed it down to 4 individuals! Now I’ve identified 4 of my connections who all live in my area, work in similar or complementary industries and enjoy golfing. I can decide from here whom I want to connect, and even connect the entire group of people through a golf outing!

Filter your searches to find common ground among your first-degree connections.

Go through this process numerous times with your first-degree connections, but reverse and play around with the order of your filters.

For example, start with a keyword based on one of your interests, and then filter for geography, followed by industry. You can certainly connect others across the country as well. There are really no rules here other than the more common ground you can identify among the connections you connect, the more relevant and meaningful that introduction will be for both parties.

#3: Send Both Connections a Private Message

Before you utilize the LinkedIn introduction tool, I strongly suggest you send a private message to each of the individuals you’re going to be connecting. First you’ll need to decide who’ll be the person you introduce and who’ll receive the introduction. Send a private message first to the person you’ll introduce. Use something like the following to let him or her know what to expect:

“Hi Sam, I know someone whom I think you would really enjoy meeting and we are also connected here on LinkedIn. His name is John ______ and he owns a technology company here in town. I realized that both of you are passionate about triathlons and even do some blogging on the subject. I wanted to introduce the two of you because you seem to have a lot in common, and you’re both here in Dallas! I will be sending an official LinkedIn introduction over to him shortly to introduce the two of you and you can take it from there. Let me know how it goes! Hope business is going well and let’s get together soon!”

Warm regards,

Stephanie Sammons

For the person who’ll be receiving the introduction, send him or her a private message as well as notification that your introduction will be coming soon. Always send these private messages first to make it clear to both parties what you’re trying to accomplish, otherwise it can be confusing.

Once you’ve sent the private messages, you can send over the official LinkedIn introduction. You can access the link entitled “Make an Introduction” from your connection’s profile.

LinkedIn makes it simple for you to introduce others.

The best way to ensure that these new connections you’re creating on LinkedIn will evolve into potential relationships is to do the work up front, and uncover all of the potential intersecting points or commonalities with your first-degree connections. The more people have in common—especially around personal interests—the more likely a new relationship will develop and thrive! You’ll be appreciated and respected for taking the time to connect the dots and piece these introductions together, and most importantly, you’ll build significant social influence!

It takes work to be a connector, and the benefits may not be immediately measurable. Long-term, however, you’ll reap the rewards in ways that you may not even be able to imagine today. Not only will you become a more valuable and influential person to your existing connections, you’ll open the door for new connections and introductions for yourself.

Have you tried connecting people on LinkedIn? Do you have any tips to add? Please share your story in the comments 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://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13803832 Nick Robinson

    Great post. Stephanie, do you have any specific examples of how the introductions have resulted in business for you? Just curious.

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

    Hi Nick, the example I’ve sited in this article has resulted in business. Acting as a connector is a “pay it forward” concept and I’ve done this “offline” for years so it’s essentially applying the same techniques. Only now we have insight into so much more information about our contacts online and available to us! Just be patient as you work this concept. It will come back to you in ways you never imagined.

  • http://www.colemanmg.com Antonio Coleman

    Stephanie I haven’t spent enough time over there on linkedin but reading your article has sparked that fire in me, I only have heard good things about the site and how great the communities are.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  • http://www.mazakaro.com Rahul@MazaKaro

    i just have an acount on linkedin and it was longtime a got from my last visit to it , i dont find it that helpful , i just want say say , no denying , this makes sense and what you were talking about is very interesting and checking these points is not a bad idea thank you for sharing this , i’ll be telling in case i have some difficulties

  • http://www.investmentwriting.com/blog Susan Weiner, CFA

    Stephanie,

    Good ideas! I’ve been doing this informally, mostly to help some of my job hunting friends.

    I don’t expect immediate or even direct payback. Many people have helped me get to where I am today, so this is part of how I thank them.

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

    Great Susan thanks for the comment! You are right, this process is not about immediate or direct payback. If you are genuinely and consistently focused on helping others, you will benefit as you are well aware!

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    My latest goal on LinkedIn is to start doing recommendations. This is a great idea for me though, as I know a lot of bloggers who would enjoy getting connected with others – I’ll have to keep this in mind while I’m profile hopping. Thanks!

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

    Thanks Kristi I hope it works well for you! I agree that recommendations are quite powerful and I need to get better at focusing on that!

  • deb1221

    Stephanie,
    Thanks for the great post on being a connector–nice too to see some sample text on sending a private message. A good touch since it would be nice to hear how it goes after you’ve made the introductions.–Debbie

  • http://mywebgal.com/blog Deb

    Hi Stephanie,

    Brilliant tips for LinkedIn. I hadn’t thought of doing this at all. In fact, I haven’t been very social on LI simply because it didn’t seem all that social. Woot! Love this idea and will do. Thanks for sharing this valuable info. Best Wishes!

  • http://www.LinkedMediaGroup.com Linked Media Group, Inc.

    Hi Stephanie,

    Great and insightful post. I try to “pay it forward” in a modest way via Twitter with the Hashtag #WomensWednesday when I try to give visibility to women via my Twitter account. Back to your insightful Blog post – plan on incorporating some of your ideas and thanks so much. Just reached out to you via LinkedIn to connect :-)

    Warmest Regards,

    Lee Traupel

  • http://twitter.com/blythedeorive blythedeorive

    Stephanie,
    thanks for the insight and the how-to. I love the idea of connecting people through LinkedIn with this method. It is a virtual cocktail party with you taking someone’s arm to meet a friend! I also like LinkedIn for my business reading list. It is a great repository for my “library”. Thanks again. Blythe

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

    Thanks Debbie glad it was helpful! I think the wording is important.

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

    Thanks Deb, it can actually be very social. Just keep spending time there and exploring.

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

    Cool thanks Lee! I look forward to connecting.

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

    You are correct, if you can imagine yourself at an event or a party and emulate those behaviors online it can work very well!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6G5VSN22AP3Z55A5VXSMNEW4HQ pam

    I’ve recently joined LinkedIn – and have found the connections very useful to my art career. I’ve joined a few groups and try to participate in dicussions whenever possible.

  • http://tsfinancial.info/ Tommy Sikes

    The power of social media in action!

    I got your post via another blogger who I follow on Twitter. This is what great blogs are all about. Succinct, actionable and with screenshots to boot!

    You’re added to my list…

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

    Thanks Tommy!

  • http://grahamsiener.tumblr.com/ Graham Siener

    You should check out http://www.hashable.com — they are making this introduction process much richer!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Indulekha.Nanayakkara Indulekha Nanayakkara

    I’ve been hopping in and out of LinkedIn and wondering what to do next, after setting up profile and making a good number of connections I already know.. This would definitely be what I’m gonna do next!

    Thank you so much for this post Stephanie. I would appreciate more on LinkedIn as I’m sure most of us don’t know how to actually harness the full potential of the wonderful ‘social’ (more like professional) network it is…

  • http://twitter.com/BeeLinkt BeeLinkt

    Great idea Stephanie!!! Connections are hard enough thank you for making it easier.

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

    Great Indulekha! Thanks for sharing. I think the more time you spend on LinkedIn you will realize that you really can get creative and strengthen your network. It’s all about being visible and staying engaged! Good luck!

  • http://www.clarekelway.com Clare Kelway

    Stephanie, Thanks for a great article full of advice and tips. I use LinkedIN but not nearly well enough and I have just started to do exactly what you suggest here, and already I have seen results just because I love to put people together who deserve to know each other. And, a big thank you for already accepting my invite to connect on LinkedIn. Hopefully, we shall have a chance to collaborate in ways unknown at this time!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/nixgrafix Nixgrafix Webdesign

    Nice post Stephanie, this is something I will get working on straight away I can see many benefits all round !

  • http://www.320MultimediaMarketing.com Monica Hall

    Stephanie, this was SO timely. I freely use the Recommend function to promote others I believe in, but hadn’t explored this approach for even further connections. What a tremendous tool! Thank you not only for the concept, but delving into it in detail, so everyone can thoroughly understand the exact steps. GREAT article that I’ll happily share.

  • EB

    Very nice post Stephanie. I’ll put it on my fb.

  • http://www.brosix.com/ Brosix

    I didn’t even know you could do this. Thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.brosix.com/ Brosix

    I didn’t even know you could do this. Thanks for the tips.

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

    Thanks so much Monica. Glad it helped you!

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

    Thanks so much Monica. Glad it helped you!

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

    Great I wish you the best!

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

    Great I wish you the best!

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

    Glad to connect with you Clare.

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

    Glad to connect with you Clare.

  • Mark Ryan

    Dear Stephanie,

    May I share my experience about LinkedIn connections ?

    I believe that the true value of a LinkedIn account is the level 2 list of connections.

    I have downloaded and browsed my whole LinkedIn level 2 network (35 000+ contacts) and I am browsing the new contacts every other week, it gives me new leads all the time, very easy to contact. Took me some time the first time I got it all but now it takes me very little time to spot interesting leads in the updates (I am looking for very specific type of companies). The most interesting part is that my direct connections are working for me for free; each time they connect to new people, these people end up in my database and I just have to look at them to spot my sales lead.

    It’s not a feature of LinkedIn, you have to use a third party service. There are several companies out there that provide this service. I am currently using http://www.smartbees.biz, they have been very helpful so far.

    Cheers
    Mark

  • Mark Ryan

    Dear Stephanie,

    May I share my experience about LinkedIn connections ?

    I believe that the true value of a LinkedIn account is the level 2 list of connections.

    I have downloaded and browsed my whole LinkedIn level 2 network (35 000+ contacts) and I am browsing the new contacts every other week, it gives me new leads all the time, very easy to contact. Took me some time the first time I got it all but now it takes me very little time to spot interesting leads in the updates (I am looking for very specific type of companies). The most interesting part is that my direct connections are working for me for free; each time they connect to new people, these people end up in my database and I just have to look at them to spot my sales lead.

    It’s not a feature of LinkedIn, you have to use a third party service. There are several companies out there that provide this service. I am currently using http://www.smartbees.biz, they have been very helpful so far.

    Cheers
    Mark

  • http://www.dynamikinternetmarketing.com/ Dino Gomez

    Amazing post Stephanie! This concept encompasses multiple strategies of social networking and yet is often overlooked! Thanks for sharing!

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  • http://twitter.com/clare_thompson claire thompson

    Really good article thanks stephanie, i have already had several 2nd level connections approach me and it really is like networking from your computer. I will be putting this article into practice and connecting people v.soon!

  • http://www.philobrien.com Phil O’Brien

    Hi Stephanie. Really useful post. It might be worth updating Step 1 to include the new LinkedIn InMaps service – http://bit.ly/dERs0w. This would make the initial task of assessment much easier – especially if you click on your connections and see visually who they connect to.

  • Ron Fulton

    Stephanie,
    I enjoyed reading your articles and I am interested in adding you to my Linkedin Network so that I can “follow you”. Which option do you prefer that I choose in the “invite stephanie to connect” in order to be added to your network? Thanks, Ron http://www.linkedin.com/in/ronfulton

  • http://www.performanceinsiders.com/ageless-male.html Ageless Male

    this is great its so nice to know that a lots of blogs was truly true

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