Most things in life that you want, you need to proactively go after. Building your network falls into that category. Unless you have the luxury of being so well-known that your network grows simply by responding to connection requests then you’d better get busy. Start by reaching out.
Reaching out was mentioned in last week’s post when I encouraged you to be social. Specifically, I said you should personalize your invite requests. This week let’s be a little more strategic about who you might want to reach out to and what you might say.
People You Can Learn From
LinkedIn isn’t just about connecting with people who might become customers in the future. LinkedIn offers a golden opportunity for you to learn from others. The opportunity in this form didn’t exist just two decades ago. In the past, to learn from other people you had to attend or purchase their courses, read their articles in magazines, or buy their books. Now you can read their posts, check out their online articles, and avail yourself to other content for free in most cases.
When it comes to people you find interesting and can learn from, you can see their content by following them on LinkedIn. However, a better way is to connect with them and build your network. When you reach out to these people make sure you give them a reason. Here’s a sample message:
“Sam, I’ve seen some of your articles online and read your most recent book. I’ve learned a lot from you and would love to connect so I can follow you more closely and learn more. Thank you for all you do, Brian”
This approach allows the other person to know exactly why you want to connect. By sharing a short message, they also know you’re not looking to get something from them other than learning opportunities. Outreaches like this tap into liking because it’s flattering to get a genuine compliment and I’ve found most people will connect. When they connect be sure to thank them with a short message.
“I appreciate you connecting with me. Have a terrific day! Brian”
People Who Might Become Customers
My niche is influence and most of my clients are in the insurance industry. If there’s an organization I hope to work with in the future, I lay the groundwork by reaching out to people at that company who are in roles I might work with and those who are decision makers.
I take this approach for a couple of reasons. First, I want people to see my profile and realize I might be able to help them. That’s tapping into authority.
Second, as I start to build a following within the organization and people who work there see I’m connected to many of their peers they’re more likely to accept my request to connect. That’s using social proof.
Of course, I send a personalized invite. It might go something like this:
“Pat, I’ve been in the insurance industry for more than 30 years. I see we know many of the same people so I thought I’d reach out to connect. Thanks, Brian”
When the connection is made, I send a thank you message just in case the person simply hit “accept” and didn’t see my personalized invite. My follow up may look like this:
“Pat, I appreciate the connection. Enjoy the rest of your day. Brian”
It’s short and sweet, and quite often this extra step becomes a conversation starter. A word of caution here, and for your initial invite – DO NOT try to sell anything! This is about growing your network and it starts with relationship building, not selling. You don’t look to get married on a first date so don’t try to sell at this time either. Proposals and sales come later, sometimes much later.
People You Can Help
Networking isn’t just about what you can get. It’s also about what you can give. In the second post in this series, I wrote about creating and sharing meaningful content. Good content will attract people to you. It can also be a door opener for you to reach out.
When you see someone who you’re not connected to comments on something you’ve shared, acknowledge the comment. Next, reach out to connect with them using a personal message.
“Kim, I saw you commented on my most recent article. Because you liked it, I thought I’d reach out to connect. Thanks, Brian”
I know I sound like a broken record right about now but when Kim connects make sure you respond with a personal message.
“Kim, thanks for accepting the connection request. I hope you find what I share interesting and valuable. Have a great day! Brian”
If Kim didn’t notice your personalized invite she’s more likely to see that when you do the follow up message.
Having a good LinkedIn bio is a great start to growing your network because people need a reason to connect with you. However, don’t think your bio will be so good that people will be flocking to you. You have to be proactive if you want to connect with people that you can learn from, people who might be potential customers, and those whom you can help. I encourage you to start today.
After you read this article, think about what you’ve learned then reach out to at least one person using one of the approaches I’ve outlined. Next, start being systematic in your approach and I think you’ll see these tips will pay big dividends.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was a new release bestseller in several Amazon categories.
Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on the application of persuasion in sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 350,000 people around the world.