LinkedIn Advice for Growing Your Connections

May 7, 2013 |  by  |  Linkedin Blog

How & Why 20,000 People Connected With Me on LinkedIn in 8 Months

If you want to increase your LinkedIn connections or grow your business then read on.

I’m a professional business networker and have been for the last 25 years. However I was very conscious that conventional networking was changing, and so In 2008 I took a long hard look at social & business networking with a fresh pair of eyes.

I decided that LI was the way forward as it quickly established itself as the world’s most professional network. It now has over 200 million registered business connections.

Business Connections

I joined LinkedIn in January 2009 to serve my ‘Online Contact Networking Apprenticeship’, and to learn as much as I could about building a really dynamic & productive global network of business contacts. My aim was to focus on how to research & identify top quality proactive business contacts. I never really embraced POWER networking for the next 28 months.

In April 2011 I mapped out an ambitious ‘Marketing Action Plan’ for getting to 20,000 LI connections in less than 8 months by the end of December 2011. I actually achieved 21,000. The maximum number of LI connections anyone can have is 30,000.

I knew I could serve my clients and customers in a much more effective manner if I had over 20,000 LI top quality business connections in various geographical regions around the world. Talk to elinked for further Insider Information.

My action plan included short, medium & long term Key Performance Indicators. The most crucial aspects for me were…

1: I only wanted to connect with people I thought would bring added value to my network. I also had to feel I could add value to their network. (Anyone can smash targets by just connecting with anyone on LI & there are many ‘number collectors’ who keep appearing. You can recognise them by the way they post their invitation requests, i.e. I want to achieve 1,000 or 5,000 LI connections in the next week. That said, I’m fine with those types of networkers as some sectors require Power Networkers to establish lots of business connections quickly.)

2: Personally, I wanted connections in specific business sectors where my strengths lie, and I target members from these sectors accordingly.

3: I’m an International consultant who has worked in 44 countries so I wanted to build on, and reinforce my global network.

4: I wanted a percentage formula of 50% of connections who each have more than 500 connections in their LI network. 35% who have between 100 to 500 connections in their network & 15% of connections who have less than 100 connections in their LI network*. This is important to me because whatever marketing messages you intend to send out via your LI connections is likely to be different for each of these 3 categories.

5: My action plan also stated I wanted to grab the number one positions on the LI Advance Search facility for 4 specific key phrases relevant to my business. I achieved this about 2 to 3 months ago. Now people find me much easier than before.

My tips for successfully growing your LI connections

1: Your profile has to have mass generic appeal to a wide audience of people across multiple business sectors. Most people who connect with me state they did so because I have a fantastic profile which oozes credibility & kudos. (Their words not mine. But there must be something in this statement as many people voice it & lots have joined me.)

2: Everyone gets 3,000 LI invites when they join. You have to ensure in the early stages that the percentage of people who actually connect with you, from the number of invitations you’ve sent out, is extremely high. If you achieve this, then LI may give you an increase in membership invitations after you’ve used your initial 3,000 invites. If your conversion rate is poor, they won’t give you additional invites.

3: I post out invitations on 20 threads on 5 open networking groups like The Black Belt POWER Networkers, LION, Top Linked & Open group every day. Once in the morning & once in the evening. Every day 7 days a week. It’s a pain in the ass & you get a lot of spam, but it’s the price you have to pay. ( I research everyone’s profile before I connect with them.)

4: I invest several hours every day on LI. Mornings & evenings. I am a member of 45 relevant groups & I post a generic posting once a week on each groups discussion boards. My posts are usually informative networking or business growth tips that many people like. If they like them, they’ll typically want to connect with you.

5: I invested time on LI every Bank Holiday, Christmas day 2011 & New Years day 2012. Was it a good investment of my time? Well over 50 people connected with me on Christmas day & over 80 people connected with me on New Year’s Day, so yes it was a great investment for me.

6: I help people increase their networking skills whenever I can, even though it can be time consuming.

7: I reckon I give about 90% & expect about 10% in return to networking people.

8: It seemed like an impossible task to get so many connections and at the start of my LI networking journey.  I looked in awe at people who had 5,000 LI connections and wondered if I could really ever get to 5k myself.

But I wasn’t afraid to ask other Power Networkers & LI customer services for initial advice. 3 networking people did for me, what I’m now doing for you. They offered me some very basic tips which helped. (Incidentally I’ve smashed past each of these 3 networkers for the number of connections we each have, so my original fears were unfounded.)

9: I picked out several Power networkers at different levels of connections, i.e. 5 who had 5k, 5 who had 10k, 5 who had 15k, 5 who had 20k and I used them as ‘Chasers’. My goal was to chase & overtake each of these for my number of LI connections. I also had my eye on one very proactive LI networker who has over 25k and he’s growing fast. I’ve kept one eye firmly on his progress and he’s my next ‘Chaser’.

10: I constantly change/modify the info in my profile and change my updates every couple of weeks.

11: I welcomed recommendations onto my LI Profile page. Currently 300+ business clients, customers & other business contacts have graciously taken time out of their busy schedules to actually write and post recommendations for me. LI recommendations give your profile added credibility & Kudos. They also provide added confidence in business buyers and decision makers. I joined a fantastic LI group: ‘Top Recommended People’ which kind of reinforces your LI credibility.

12: I formed & manage a LI group called: Black Belt POWER Networkers. If you have any interest in Power Networking you should join ASAP.

13: I formed a ‘HIT LIST’ of my top 200+ Open Networkers & I frequently email this list out wherever I can. All of the people on the Hit List report that it works, as their networks increase from me posting out the list. E-mail me at drmarkdyates@aol.com if you want a copy of my HIT LIST or you want to be added to it.

Although my proactive networking marketing plan might appear aggressive to some, I always place quality over quantity of business professionals I connect with.

Problems with Growing A Linkedin Power Network

Like me, you will make lots of time consuming and moral & motivation sapping mistakes. Nearly all the mistakes I made resulted from the fact there is no clear blueprint for precisely how to grow your LinkedIn network. This means many people do things only to find out they have inadvertently contravened LI policies. The first they know about it is when their profile & account are suspended by LI without prior notice.

Many LI members believe that LI do not like fast growing or ‘Open Networkers or LIONS’, as it goes against their original business model. You should be very careful not to inadvertently spam or Phish anyone on your network, as the LI Privacy team can immediately withdraw your profile and leave you with no LI access whatsoever while they conduct an investigation. Ultimately they can ban you from LI irrespective of how long you’ve invested in LI, or how many LI connections you may have.

The same goes for I Don’t Know’s or IDK’s, so you need to be careful around this.

Although it’s very frustrating, especially if you have an impatient mind-set like most proactive networkers, it’s far better to adopt the principle of ‘Slowly Slowly – Catchy Monkey’ in relation to starting to target high numbers of LI connections. I strongly advocate you read the LI terms & privacy issues to ensure you don’t breach them.

Question:              The $6 million dollar question many people ask is: Why do you have so many connections, it must be impossible to stay in touch with them all?

Answer:                                 For me it’s simple. More Business Connections = More Business Opportunities. And yes I do keep in touch with everyone of my thousands of business connections at least once every month.

Added Value Benefits:       Besides the obvious increase in business & clients, by far the very best added value benefit I’ve received from building my LinkedIn connections is when someone either sends me a thank you note, or posts a recommendation for me because they like the fact that I’ve helped them grow their business and/or increase their networking contacts.

After 3 years on LI I’ve come to accept that ‘Effective’ Power Networking is actually a science, however it’s not a conventional science. Factor in for the bush fire spread & advancement of technology & everything online, and you realise that Power Networking is very much an organic science.

When I began my LI journey 3 years ago it was rare to hear about LI Social Media Specialist Consultants who specialised in helping you grow your LI connections and to grow your business. Now there are several. I’m one of them and I’m actually paid to provide this service for my business consultancy clients & other LI connections.

I guess it’s important to mention that ‘My Way’ for growing LI connections, which I’ve described above, is just one way of growing your connections on LinkedIn. There are no doubt lots of other productive ways. My Way just happens to have worked really well for me. Not only is it a proven methodology, but it’s also very much’ of its time’, i.e. 2012 – 2013 current.

A lot to take in I know, but I hope its useful information to help you grow your business and your business connections.

Good luck with your 2013 networking.

Dr. Mark D. Yates

Dr. Mark D. Yates is a global #1 LinkedIn consultancy business growth specialist, LinkedIn speaker, LinkedIn Sign & LinkedIn training instructor & CEO of Link Business Marketing Ltd. If you need to hire a LinkedIn expert to help you gain profitable business growth, contact him. Tel: UK 0203 390 2013 Email: drmarkdyates@aol.com, connect with him on LinkedIn & Twitter You can view & download his dynamic independent LinkedIn training program at: linkedinswat.co.uk.

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