Tactic #3: Find People You Know (Or Want To Know)
Once you’re in place, start searching the site for people you know and establish connections with them. You may not know anyone – that’s fine – but if you can at least establish a few connections, you’re off on the right foot.
You might want to search whole companies, like your own, just to get a list of people, so you can quickly identify people that you may want to link up with. Don’t be afraid to connect with people above you in rank – or even below you – but focus on connecting to those that might actually have value in that connection. Don’t just connect for the sake of connecting or else you’ll suffer from needless overload.
Tactic #4: Invite Your Friends To Join
So, you signed up at LinkedIn (or whatever site you’ve chosen to use), filled in your profile, and located a few people you know. Now what?
These tools work better if you know lots of people using the tools, so email a bunch of your work contacts. Send them the URL of your LinkedIn page, along with perhaps the URLs of some other people most of them might be interested in, and encourage them to sign up. If people already know that they have at least a few connections in the bag, they’re much more likely to sign up for such a service.
Tactic #5: Keep People Reminded Through Other Means
Once you’re established there, make an effort to remind people through other mediums about your profile page, so they can follow you, too. I’d encourage you to stick a link to your profile in the signature of your emails as well as into the profile of any other online services you might use (like Facebook, for example).
What this does is it gives people many opportunities to visit your page and keep you in their mind – and that’s a pure benefit for you.
Tactic #6: Keep An Eye Out
Once you’ve established a profile and a lot of connections, it’s worth setting your basic page on the site as a bookmark so you can keep up with what’s happening with the people you’re connected to. I tend to look at what’s happening with my connections on various sites every other day or so, just to keep tabs with them.
For the most part, I don’t do anything with the updates – I just try to keep track of them. I usually send congratulations in response to big news and occasional follow-up questions, but I usually try to avoid too much follow-up (see #8 for why).
Tactic #7: Update Regularly
I also make an effort to update my own profile whenever there’s something significant to note. Whenever something happens that’s significant enough for me to wish to contact people professionally, I make sure to update any relevant social networking pages with a global update (so that everyone can see it and anyone who follows me or is connected is alerted to it).
Of course, there’s a fine line here – too much stuff can overburden the people connected to you. To mitigate that, I keep the update count down to the serious stuff – things that I would actually bother to contact others about, such as major project changes, changing jobs, the birth of a child, or another major event.
Click here to read part 3 of this article