LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, describes LinkedIn as a tool "designed to connect people with other people to accelerate personal and professional achievement." -- Any achievement you are apt to accomplish will be done with people. LinkedIn Ninjas understand the more they know about what their connections are trying to achieve the more they can be of help......and the more your connections can help you.
Connections vs. Relationships
There are 3 basic strategies for connecting with people on LinkedIn:
LION: LinkedIn Open Networkers, or just open networkers. These users are totally open and will accept any invitation. The idea here is to connect to as many people as possible in order to reach out to more people. A larger network is particularly useful when prospecting for leads and doing research on people and companies
Professional Networker:This would be the most typical LinkedIn user. A salesperson would connect to his or her clients; the client would connect to their suppliers etc. You don't actually have to have met the other person but you will have dealt with them and deem there is a value being connected for both your careers. Professional networkers will normally have anything from 200 to one thousand connections.
Relationship Networkers: This is the preferred networking style for LinkedIn Ninjas. As a relationship networker we have made the decision to populate our contact list with "relationships" - In other words we only connect with people who we know and trust. Our goal as relationship networkers is to have tight interactions with "contacts" we be of service to.
Invite │Respond │Relationship
You may be wondering how to build a vibrant, growing contacts list on LinkedIn as a very selective Relationship Builder networker? LinkedIn Ninjas have a purpose driven strategy we call invite, respond, relationship.
Invite - When I want to join someone's network I replace the default invite note with a targeted note aimed specifically for the person I am attempting to connect with. Now I know you are concerned about the time this "targeted" note may take to compose. --- So here is a Ninja trick develop template notes that can be customized for specific situations. - Still don't have enough time to compose template notes? Exam this Wiki for some template examples.
Respond - When people invite me to join their networks especially when it is a cold call invite I ask myself the following:
- How well do I know this person?
- What can I do to help this person?
- When can I talk to this person?
To answer these questions I respond to the invite with a targeted note with a simple question; "before we connect I would like to know how I can help you.....this is my number please give me a call." The call gives me the opportunity to discover how I can be of assistance. Also it tells me how serious the potential connection is about networking with me; as less than 10% respond to my note with a call. - As a LinkedIn Ninja it is all about giving to your connections. So my gift to you is this Wiki of template response notes.
Relationship - Relationship is more than just being in a name on a contact list. True relationship is developing an ongoing connection inside and especially outside of LinkedIn. As a LinkedIn Ninja these are a few of the things I do to build those relationships with the people I am connected to on LinkedIn.
- When I need to have specific communications with my contacts; I do so outside of LinkedIn, using personal email or better yet the phone.
- I make a point have an annual "Check IN" with my contacts. Typically I do these Check IN's during the birthday month of my contacts. In these meetings I find out what is going on and how I can be of assistance.
- I keep my contact updated by downloading them into my Microsoft Outlook and purging outdated contacts from the LinkedIn site.