A Guide to Making Meaningful LinkedIn Connections
LinkedIn is a great tool for job seekers looking to make connections with others in the same line of work. The platform focuses on networking but, unfortunately, many connections fail to translate into exciting job opportunities. It’s not a numbers game—you need to aim for quality over quantity. Instead of trying to collect as many connections as possible, focus on making meaningful ones.
Before you venture into the vast expanses of LinkedIn to find your future boss, make sure you have a stunning resume that showcases your skills and qualifications for the position you’re eyeing. If you need help crafting such a resume, seek help from our experts.
What makes a LinkedIn connection meaningful?
So, what is a meaningful LinkedIn connection? Simply put, it’s one that benefits both parties. Ideally, it blossoms into a long-term relationship, but each side must bring something of value to the table, usually in terms of professional help. Whether that’s helping the other find a job or simply offering advice, both parties should strive to be of use.
If a connection is one-sided, there’s nothing to motivate the giving party to stick around. So, when you find someone you are eager to develop a strong professional relationship with, ask yourself what you have to offer. Give the other person a reason to want to network with you.
Connecting with the right people on LinkedIn
To form a connection, you must first find the right people to connect with. It’s common to receive invitations from complete strangers. You don’t need to accept every request you get—in fact, you shouldn’t. Learning how to determine whether a connection is meaningful or not is an important skill.
Let’s look at what people are likely to turn into meaningful connections.
People you know
Don’t send a bunch of invites to random users—focus on connecting with those you know. The “People you may know” feature on LinkedIn is especially useful for finding them, but you can also run your own search. People will be more likely to accept your connection request if they already know you, and this pre-connection will also make them more willing to help you. Of course, you should strive to return the favor.
People from your groups
Join groups related to your industry and start making connections with other members. Again, these people are more likely to accept your request because there’s clearly common ground and a strong likelihood that this relationship will be mutually beneficial. These connections could offer you invaluable professional advice or even help you land a new job.
Friends of friends
While this shouldn’t be your first option for making connections, it can certainly benefit you in the long run. Your friends may not be in the same industry as you, but they may know people who are. These connections can be meaningful because you have two common denominators—your industry and your friend. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends of friends! After all, they’re also on LinkedIn to grow their professional network, and they’ll likely be just as interested in connecting with the friend of a friend in the same industry.
Establishing relationships on LinkedIn
Once you’ve made the connection, you have to work on building and maintaining the relationship. Create a strategic plan to foster a solid relationship so you can both benefit fully from the connection. This takes time, effort, and patience because you need to win the other person’s trust and show them that you can help as well.
Offer your services
Instead of asking them for a favor, ask what you can do for them. This could be as simple as sharing your opinion on an article or discussing ideas about a project they’re working on—whatever it is, show them you can add value to their work. Be careful not to overdo it, though: If you immediately offer a huge favor, it may weird them out and prompt them to reconsider the connection. Read the room and make sure to keep everything within the realm of normal interactions. If they seem uncomfortable, back off and re-evaluate your strategy.
Ask for their help
Once you’ve established a relationship, it’s perfectly normal to ask for a favor. In fact, the other person will probably suspect that’s why you’re reaching out anyway. Just be thoughtful about the way you ask. Show your gratitude for their time and assistance, and be clear about why you want their help. Don’t waste their time by being vague. Also, if there’s anything concrete you can do for them, make sure to bring it up.
Handling LinkedIn invitations
Whether you’re sending or receiving invitations, be selective. This discretion is crucial because it could be the difference between shutting down a meaningless connection and capitalizing on a meaningful one. Accepting every request sent your way is a poor strategy because it wastes your time and clutters your newsfeed.
When you send an invitation, it’s normally to someone you have a connection with. Mention this connection, especially if it’s someone you don’t know very well since you want to be clear about how you know them. Just because you had a stimulating conversation with this person once doesn’t mean they will remember you, so mentioning your encounter is important for avoiding rejection. Unless your connection is significant, assume they don’t remember you and work from there.
Most of the time, it’s best to accept all requests since you can later remove any connections that turn out to be meaningless. If you’re concerned about privacy, though, you’ll need to be more discerning to ensure you don’t expose personal information to undesirable strangers. Before you accept an invitation, check out the person’s profile and judge whether that connection would be meaningful. Once you accept an invitation, follow the above steps to establish a relationship.
When you’re trying to build a network on LinkedIn, a few meaningful connections are more effective than a hundred meaningless ones. Take the time to make your connections meaningful. Once you’ve developed strong relationships, your connections may help you land your dream job, so make sure you have your resume all ready to go. If you need a helping hand, go ahead and hire a professional resume writer!