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Increasing your network pays off

March 18, 2016

LinkedIn is all about interactions between real people. This seems self-evident, but on many other platforms like Facebook or Instagram bots and fake likes still account for a notable share of interactions.

Adding as many connections as possible is a bad approach for many reasons. Like mentioned in column #5 (Contact Management), syncing your address book(s) is a fast way to start building your network. While spending time on LinkedIn, you will find a lot of interesting contacts via groups, discussions on status updates and so on. There are multiple ways to give a little push to this “organic” network growth that will help you build a valuable network much faster.

Suggested Connections Option on LinkedIn

In the upper right corner, LinkedIn’s homepage features a little box entitled “x ways to keep in touch.”

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After clicking through all the suggestions (each featuring the following interactions: like, comment, skip), LinkedIn actively suggests new connections based on the user’s industry, skills and jobs. Sending these contacts an invite does not require you to select a job relation nor to enter an e-mail address.

From the main menu, choose “my network” -> “people you may know”. This pages not only presents further profile suggestions but also reminds you of your connections’ birthdays, a feature which has recently been added.

Be cautious though and restrict yourself to only adding a small number of contacts each time you log into the platform. Sending out mass invites will cause the algorithm to classify you as a spammer and restrict your maximum invites.

Browser-Plugins for Gmail users

Two free browser plugins link social media profile data to messages in your inbox, but both extensions only work in combination with Google’s Gmail inbox.

These plugins are called Rapportive and FullContact. LinkedIn bought the company that launched Rapportive (http://rapportive.com/) two years ago. The plugin is available for Chrome and Firefox browsers. Currently, the competitor, FullContact (https://www.fullcontact.com/gmail/), is only available for Chrome; Safari and Firefox versions are in the making.

Both plugins add a sidebar displaying various social media profile information about the sender. While Rapportive focusses on profile data and comment connections, FullContact supports a wider range of social media platforms. In the free version, contact information is updated monthly, pro users get access to daily updates.

Which plugin you prefer is merely a question of taste – both are great tools to add your existing mail contacts to your LinkedIn network.

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The Rapportive sidebar
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The FullContact sidebar with an open “company tab”.

3rd Party Lead Research: Opportunity

LinkedIn is fostering an ecosystem of startups that offer various added features. One of the most useful startups is Opportunity (http://myopportunity.com/): The company describes itself as “A lead generation tool built inside of a business network.”

Upon registration, users select up to 4 different roles (sales lead, job seeker, hiring manager, networker) and add services in 2 categories. Based upon these needs and offers, Opportunity identifies potential leads which you can contact via the built-in messaging system.

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Networker profile on Opportunity

Adding and completing a “networker” profile is a great way of finding new connections on an ongoing basis. The free version limits the number of matches but is still a great tool for identifying international leads within the same industry.

Consider cross-promoting your account on various channels!

Do not laugh about the good old e-mail signature: It’s a great place to display a link to your profile. When printing your next batch of business cards, consider adding your LinkedIn URL to the contact section – or add a QR code that links to a page with your contact information (or directly to your profile).

One final tip: When expanding your network, consider that your connections will accompany you for many years. Each new contact does not just mean that your address list has grown. At the same time, you are creating a long-term communication channel. Georg Frank, author of “The Attention Economy”, might even say that LinkedIn reach equals our personal business capital in this digital era.

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