LinkedIn can be a hugely valuable tool, whether you’re looking for a new job or simply trying to make connections and network within your industry. However, many people complain that their LinkedIn feed is not relevant to their interests. It might be cluttered with spam or simply posts that don’t interest them, or perhaps it may be full of people that they don’t know or value. There is a simple reason for this: when building LinkedIn connections, it’s really important to make sure that your connections are both valuable and powerful.
So, how can you make sure that your LinkedIn connections are valuable? Let’s start by examining different ways of choosing people to add to your network. Firstly, consider inviting your email contacts to connect with you on LinkedIn. This is a great idea because it’s likely that a lot of the people you’re in email contact with are people that you’ve already worked with, meaning that you already have something in common. The site allows you to easily import contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and a few other email services. However, you should look through the list of contacts that LinkedIn wants to import and vet the list. Get rid of old contacts and people you don’t want, then write personalised invitations to the ones you want to connect with.
Then, look through their connections for anyone else you may know and want to connect with. One great advantage of connecting with your email contacts is that LinkedIn will now have a better idea of the kind of people you want to connect with, and will suggest friends and colleagues of people you already trust. You can also learn more about people you already know, and figure out what value you can bring to each other’s professional lives.
As well as people who already know you, it’s a good idea to make sure your profile is being seen by new people too. A good idea is to make at least ten new valuable connections per week, which ensures that your network is fresh and ever-changing.
Try using the search features already built into LinkedIn to find new, valuable people to connect with. Choose one of your network clusters that you want to expand on (for example, you may want to connect with more people in your city, or with whom you attended college). Use the sort feature to group together similar people, then search through their connections for people you’d like to connect with. You can also use the site’s Advanced Search feature which lets you search for people with certain job titles, companies, and more. So if you want to work for a certain company, then use the advanced search feature to look at it. It will prioritise people who have connections in common with you, which you can then use as a way of introducing yourself. This is great, as people are more likely to want to connect with you if you have friends in common.
A good way to find relevant, valuable new connections is to use the LinkedIn groups feature. Research a group well before you decide to join, as some are full of spam and unlikely to be helpful, but a well-chosen group can be a fantastic way of meeting people. Don’t use the group for marketing yourself, but use it for finding interesting and valuable people who can practically benefit your LinkedIn experience. People are more likely to accept you as a connection when they see you have a group in common, as they already know you’ll have something interesting to talk about.
It’s also necessary to talk about being discerning with who you request and accept as a connection. People who see a lot of irrelevant content do so because they accept any request that rolls in, thinking it’s better to have lots of connections than a few valuable ones. This isn’t true, and before accepting or sending a request you should think carefully about whether this person can truly add value to your LinkedIn experience.
If someone is a complete stranger with no common links or connections, it is unlikely that they will be able to provide any practical value to your professional life. Think carefully about what they can do for you and what you can do for them. You should also be pruning your existing list of connections and getting rid of people with whom you no longer have any interests in common, as they are not valuable connections. Remember, a few valuable connections is better than twice as many irrelevant ones.
One of the best ways to make sure you attract a valuable network of connections is to be valuable yourself. Make sure that you send a nice introductory message when you connect with someone so that they know how you could help them in their professional life. Reach out and introduce people who you feel should know each other. Make sure any content you post is relevant and interesting, and share your opinion on other people’s content to make sure they’ll remember you. Consider sending your connections messages on their birthdays, or to congratulate them on a new job – or even just to check in with them. All of this makes sure that your contacts want to keep you around, and will think of you when an opportunity comes up.
If you remember the vital rule that quality is far more important than quantity when it comes to both content and connections, then you can’t go far wrong in building valuable connections on LinkedIn. Remember to evaluate every potential connection for the value you bring, and start your relationships off on the right foot with a useful message that explains why you want to connect. It’s likely that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much more efficient and worthwhile LinkedIn is when everyone who you are connected with is there for a reason and provides value to your experience on the site.