If you’ve ever posted a thought-provoking post on LinkedIn only to be met with deafening silence, it can be easy to fret about what you said or didn’t say. The reality is that you may just not have anyone there to hear it.
You can’t “build it and they will come” with quality content. No matter how thought-provoking or engaging it is, you need a quality LinkedIn network if you want to see engagement and ROI from your efforts. That’s why your LinkedIn Social Selling Index score also considers the number of connections you have, as well as the quality of your connections.
Before you begin posting and sharing content to build your professional brand, you should focus on building a solid network of relevant connections – those likely to engage with your content.
It may seem like a daunting job but you can quickly scale your network by starting with the low-hanging fruit – those you already know i.e. your "core network".
Ready To Scale Up Your Core Network On LinkedIn?
We're sharing our top five ways to build your core network quickly (and a bonus time-sensitive one). The first three you could easily do in just one hour and the rest you can quickly get through in a few weeks as part of a short daily routine.
Before you begin, we can’t emphasise enough how important it is to send personalised messages when connecting. It shows you care, which is more important than ever in the current climate.
I see you attended the webinar on [topic]. I found it really interesting, particularly the part on XYZ.
Anyway, it would be great to connect on LinkedIn as I often share research on [topic].
All the best,
Step 1: Connect with your work colleagues
Anyone at your current workplace is likely to be all too happy to connect with you. Don't feel limited to those you're in regular contact with – sending an invitation request to those you've met in passing in the lift, at a social event, or doing your role elsewhere is a great way to build relationships.
Step 2: Use LinkedIn’s recommendation tool
LinkedIn makes connecting with people you know easier by making recommendations for you, which you can find under your Network tab. Under the Invitations list, LinkedIn provides you with a list of “People you may know from…”,
To reap the most of this tool, if you’ve not already done so, make sure that you’ve fully completed your profile, particularly your Education and Experience sections.
Step 3: Add personal email contacts easily
On the left-hand column of your Network page, there’s an option to add personal contacts. You can add any email address, one at a time, and LinkedIn provides you with a list of people you may wish to connect with.
You can select who you’d like to connect with and send a mass invite, but it's best to make note their names and follow-up with a personalised connection message.
Step 4: Use LinkedIn Boolean searches
After you’ve gone through the super-easy steps, you’ll have to work a little harder to discover who you might already know on LinkedIn using Boolean searches but it’s still not that difficult.
Before you begin by trying to remember and search for every person you may know, it helps to systematically categorise how you may know people by making a spreadsheet of all the places you've met people in real life or virtually already, such as:
- Networking events
- Training events/hubs
Once you’ve done this, you can then methodically work through each list using LinkedIn Boolean searches, which let you combine, group or exclude keywords in your searches using a string of operators of moderators:
- Quotes [“”]
- Parentheses [()]
As an example, if you were in marketing and looking to find someone that you worked at any previous company within the same department, you could use:
(“company name A” or “company name B” or “company name C”) AND marketing
Step 5: Look at who’s viewed your profile
While they may not be connections in real-life, they've viewed your profile for a reason, so there is a good chance that they will accept an invitation to connect. When making a connection request, it's still good practice to look at their profile and establish some common ground in your message, such as:“Hi, I noticed you checked out my profile. I can see we’re both members of x group/we’re both in Y industry. It would be great to connect and hopefully gain insights from each other.”
(Note: You should focus on relevant connections, so see our warning tips at the end before you decide to try to connect!)
This isn't "low-hanging fruit" but it's a time-sensitive tactic you shouldn't ignore if you're embracing social selling. If you manage to connect with someone in a target account, it's worthwhile seeing if new contact could introduce you anyone else within the company while their interest may be warm.
You can do this quite easily by searching for the company name (or narrowing it further with a Boolean search targeted by roles/departments), and you can quickly see anyone that is a 2nd -degree connection.
Word Of Warning: Be Selective (But Not Dismissive) Of Invites
It can be too easy to dismiss an invite from someone if they don’t meet your immediate needs but you should always be mindful of how they could be of value in the future, or if they genuinely want to learn more from you. Equally, you want to build a network of relevant contacts, so here are some vetting rules that may help:
- If you don't know them, but they've tailored their invitation, they've taken the time to build a relationship so it's usually a good idea to accept.
- If you’ve worked at the same company or group, you have something in common with them, no matter how trivial, so it's generally best to accept.
- If you have little or no mutual connections, then we would recommend rejecting or replying to say that you’re willing to connect but wish to know more about them so you can establish if you can both add value.
- If you’ve got a lot of mutual connections, then it’s probably a quality connection worth accepting.If you don’t know them and they’ve sent you a standard invite, it’s a red flag.
- If it’s a recruiter that works in your field, at your level, then it makes sense to accept the invite, especially in the current climate.
If you take these steps, you should be able to build your network quickly in the space of a few weeks. In the meantime, it's still worth sharing useful and relevant posts, but don't feel disheartened if you don't receive high engagement to begin with.