Business Journal: Networking 101

By Michael J. Lockhart

LinkedIn's Krista Canfield gives up 14 great tips about networking online.

With 150 million users and representation from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies, LinkedIn is the largest business networking site in the world. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn users create personalized profiles that act as an online, interactive resume. But how do you take advantage of online networking opportunities? How do you make a connection and foster them?

We sat down with Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, Krista Canfield, to get her inside tips on how to network in the digital age.

Krista’s Tip 1: Connect with People you Trust

When you begin, your network should be made up of people that you know and trust; it’s not a numbers game—quality is much more important than quantity.

Krista’s Tip #2: Magic Number of Contacts is 50

LinkedIn’s data scientists have found the tipping number of contacts is 50. That’s when members who have first, second, and third degree contacts start turning up with larger companies, or people that you might want as a mentor.

Krista’s Tip #3: Don’t use that generic connection request unless it’s the person a cubicle over

Invitations set the tone. It’s better to take the time to write a personalized request, reminding connections of the work you did together or how you met.

Krista’s Tip #4: Use the LinkedIn mobile app to connect right after a meeting

Do this while you’re still fresh in someone’s mind. You can also use Cardmunch app: take a photo of their business card and automatically have access to their LinkedIn profile.

Krista’s Tip #5: Analyze a potential connection’s LinkedIn profile before connecting

Allows you to find talking points such as mutual connections, groups, and areas of interest. It also shows that you’ve researched them prior to connecting, and that you are the right person to interact with.

Krista’s Tip #6: A public profile is much more effective

By keeping your profile public and searchable, you are giving potential clients and companies the information that make them want to work with you. Years ago first impressions were made when you walked in the door, now they’re made online. Don’t be Joe Smith with two connections and no picture.

Krista’s Tip #7: Keep yourself relevant to your connections

Check out the update page each day and reach out and interact with connections who may have recently changed jobs or received a promotion.

Krista’s Tip #8: Treat LinkedIn like a global business lunch

You would never go into a meeting and say “Hey, who wants to hire me?” or “Who wants to buy my product?” Get to know people in groups and forums like LinkedIn Answers; if you’re going to answer someone’s questions, be genuinely helpful and build the relationship.

Krista’s Tip #9: Utilize groups to support your interests while meeting others in a different industry than your own

Joining alumni groups can be a great way to break the ice with new connections. Also join groups you’re passionate about (ex. expanding your company into a new market).

Krista’s Tip #10: Take advantage of other social media connections

You can sync your LinkedIn and Twitter, but only do a full sync if your tweets are primarily professional. Otherwise you can set it so only tweets with #in show on LinkedIn.

Krista’s Tip #11: Use LinkedIn Apps to showcase your abilities

Add your portfolio, a presentation, or blog in order to beef your profile up.

Krista’s Tip #12: Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential mentors

Research people who are in a position that you would like to emulate. You can utilize LinkedIn’s premium option to connect with a person out of your network. Use the beta product LinkedIn Skills to see how experts in your field have progressed to the position they are in today. This can be through searching specific skill-sets, education, internships and more.

Krista’s Tip #13: Check out the competition

You can research others similar to yourself by geographic location. Check to see what your potential competitors in your field are saying about themselves. It allows you to market yourself accordingly, and also see what terminology they are using for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Krista’s Tip #14: Make recommendations work for you

Recommendations spread virally. When you recommend a contact, both you and the person you’re recommending’s network updates, alerting both of your lists of connections about the relationship. Don’t send a generic recommend request. It may lead to either a generic recommendation or none at all. Personalize it with a couple lines nudging them about previous project you worked on together. You can also ask a connection to revise a recommendation, or hide it at will.

Find out more great tips by following @KristaCanfield on Twitter.


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