Here are nine tips for expanding your LinkedIn network.
1. Post a photo.
I’ll accept connection requests from many people I don’t know as long as they have a photo. A good LinkedIn picture makes you seem more trustworthy and competent, so people are more likely to accept your connection requests, and recruiters are more apt to contact you.
2. Craft a complete profile.
Recruiters look for a complete profile, because it makes it easier for them to assess whether you may be a good fit for a position. A complete LinkedIn profile is the online equivalent of a complete resume, and it allows readers to understand who you are professionally.
3. Ask your LinkedIn connections to introduce you.
One of the best ways to make a LinkedIn connection is to ask a connection to introduce you, because most people feel comfortable connecting with a friend of a friend. To give back, offer to introduce your LinkedIn connections to others.
4. Accept all reasonable invitations.
There are two philosophies about connecting on LinkedIn. One philosophy is that you should only connect with people you’ve met in person, online, or through friends. The other is that you should accept connection requests from just about everyone who asks.
I’m in the second camp—if you have a photo, a complete profile, and something in common with me (same industry, type of work, geographical location, or friends), I’ll accept your request. The larger your network, the easier it is to find a connection at a company of interest.
5. If there’s no obvious connection, send a quick, clear introductory note about why you want to connect.
For example, “Hi Mr. Johnson. I’m a senior majoring in psychology at Zen College. I’m trying to learn if psychotherapy would be a good career for me. I see that you’ve had a private practice for 15 years. Would you be open to talking briefly about your experience in your practice? If you don’t have time, I understand. Thank you for your consideration, Maya.”
6. Join alumni and interest groups.
People in your LinkedIn alumni and interest groups are “warm connections.” Warm connections are people you have something in common with, and they’re more likely to connect with you than cold connections. So, be sure to join your alumni groups and professional groups.
7. Don’t look like a stalker.
Checking out a person’s profile multiple times over consecutive days or weeks will make you seem like a stalker. If you need to refer back to information on a person’s profile (let’s say you’re interviewing with that person next week), copy key information from her profile and paste it into a Word document.
8. Don’t send unsolicited information about your business.
I’m amazed at how often people ask to connect with me, then immediately send me spam on their business. Just because someone accepts your connection request, it doesn’t mean that they want to become your customer. If you don’t want to annoy your connections, only send them information about your business if they request it.
LinkedIn offers a blog platform that can bring you tremendous visibility. After I write a blog on my website, I post it on LinkedIn and share it with my groups. You can write a unique blog on your area of expertise, click “Write an article” on your LinkedIn homepage, add an image, and post! Then, share your blog with select LinkedIn connections and your groups.
Building a LinkedIn Network for Your Career
Now that you know how to expand your LinkedIn network, start making a few new connections each day. Soon you’ll have a deep and broad network that will increase your visibility to employers and recruiters and make it easy for you to find connections with people at a wide range of organizations.